Mental health is affecting university attendance, advice Watch

Anonymous #1
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I suffer with mental health disorders which infringe on my academic performance and attendance. There are days when I get ready to go to seminars or lectures, get dressed, am about to leave- I get outside and walk for 2 minutes, only to walk straight back home. This is on a very bad day, which come and go quite frequently. It makes me feel ashamed because I want to leave but can't because I feel so crap and anxious- I feel defeated. Apart from making the university aware, how do you cope at uni whilst suffering with mental health conditions? How do you balance out the workload if you miss seminars and lectures? What have you done to get better?
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Pathway
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I suffer with mental health disorders which infringe on my academic performance and attendance. There are days when I get ready to go to seminars or lectures, get dressed, am about to leave- I get outside and walk for 2 minutes, only to walk straight back home. This is on a very bad day, which come and go quite frequently. It makes me feel ashamed because I want to leave but can't because I feel so crap and anxious- I feel defeated. Apart from making the university aware, how do you cope at uni whilst suffering with mental health conditions? How do you balance out the workload if you miss seminars and lectures? What have you done to get better?
Well, first, are you getting any help for your mental health?
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Pathway)
Well, first, are you getting any help for your mental health?
I am.
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Pathway
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I am.
Okay, if possible ask whoever is treating you to provide you with evidence of your MH issues and go with said evidence to your university's student support department. I'd also look into Disabled Students' Allowances if you haven't already - this will give you access to various types of support, including things like extensions, individual exam arrangements, specialist mental health mentors, access to lecture slides early and unrestricted, etc.

When I was at university I made sure to keep in communication where possible with my disability support worker and specialist mental health mentor (if not, they usually touched base with me). My specialist mental health mentor helped me with motivation and keeping consistent, and various other things (e.g. checking in with me on my dissertation, etc.). Other things are knowing where I generally work best - I tend to be a night owl, so I'd work better at night for the most part, this would also be where I tended to catch up on work I had missed due to my issues and pre-read if possible on the following lecture as I had a tendency towards dissociating more than normal in lectures and stuff.

For the most part managing at university with MH issues is a multi-pronged approach and trial and error. What works for me, might not work for you, but if you speak with your university's student support department, they might be able to help you put some things in place to help you access university easier.

If you have any questions, ask away.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Pathway)
Okay, if possible ask whoever is treating you to provide you with evidence of your MH issues and go with said evidence to your university's student support department. I'd also look into Disabled Students' Allowances if you haven't already - this will give you access to various types of support, including things like extensions, individual exam arrangements, specialist mental health mentors, access to lecture slides early and unrestricted, etc.

When I was at university I made sure to keep in communication where possible with my disability support worker and specialist mental health mentor (if not, they usually touched base with me). My specialist mental health mentor helped me with motivation and keeping consistent, and various other things (e.g. checking in with me on my dissertation, etc.). Other things are knowing where I generally work best - I tend to be a night owl, so I'd work better at night for the most part, this would also be where I tended to catch up on work I had missed due to my issues and pre-read if possible on the following lecture as I had a tendency towards dissociating more than normal in lectures and stuff.

For the most part managing at university with MH issues is a multi-pronged approach and trial and error. What works for me, might not work for you, but if you speak with your university's student support department, they might be able to help you put some things in place to help you access university easier.

If you have any questions, ask away.
Thanks for your response it's much appreciated. I've got the things like extensions for late submissions in place and I am also in the process of getting DSA. My question(s) to you would be, if you don't mind answering, did you find your mentor helpful regarding your mental health? Do they act as a kind of support worker to you, or a life coach sort of thing? And in general, what did you find most difficult about being at uni? I find that on my bad days it is the people; all the eyes, having to interact with them. The work is fine for me, it is just finding that motivation, which can be difficult when you're low. Assignments in general for me are great, I never have a problem with these. I'd much prefer to work on my own and be given the essays. #

I'd love to hear your coping strategies/experience.

I'm also in the process of getting counselling, but I would prefer to see a psychologist rather than a counsellor, I'm not sure if counselling is something I want to try my hand at again.
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Pathway
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Thanks for your response it's much appreciated. I've got the things like extensions for late submissions in place and I am also in the process of getting DSA. My question(s) to you would be, if you don't mind answering, did you find your mentor helpful regarding your mental health? Do they act as a kind of support worker to you, or a life coach sort of thing? And in general, what did you find most difficult about being at uni? I find that on my bad days it is the people; all the eyes, having to interact with them. The work is fine for me, it is just finding that motivation, which can be difficult when you're low. Assignments in general for me are great, I never have a problem with these. I'd much prefer to work on my own and be given the essays. #

I'd love to hear your coping strategies/experience.

I'm also in the process of getting counselling, but I would prefer to see a psychologist rather than a counsellor, I'm not sure if counselling is something I want to try my hand at again.
Yes, my mentor and support worker were both instrumental in me actually graduating. I would've dropped out without their support. I did every now and again speak with the departmental disability liaison officer for my subject and any outside subjects mainly to let them know about any limitations I may or may not have due to my mental health issues or physical disability. It's hard to be open, but I was sort of forced to be from the POV of my physical disability, so it made it easier in some ways to be forthcoming out my mental health issues.

The support worker was put in place due to my physical disability - she helped me with making sure I always had on campus accommodation with an ensuite relatively close to the main lecture buildings and my department, fill out extenuating circumstances forms, helped with funding that I needed to carry on studying, etc. The specialist MH mentor was put in place more as someone to touch base with on a weekly basis. It was sort of going over any issues I had ran into during the week relating to studying, although every now and again it would touch on more heavy topics. So it's not like therapy, although my specialist MH mentor was actually a trained therapist, it was mostly figuring out how to fit studying around my MH issues (and also to some extent my physical health). Like figure out what was in the way and how to get rid of it or work around it.

My main issues were with people as well. I have pretty bad anxiety when I am around people due to my complex PTSD and being hypervigilant because of it, which is why I had a tendency towards dissociating in lectures, etc., which isn't great when you need to pay attention. I also have pretty big issues with motivation all the time, so if I get into doing something, it's usually at the expense of other things (e.g. I'd work on my dissertation for like 10-12 hours straight sometimes, and not eat, etc. which wasn't great as I also have AN), but that's also somewhat related to my dissociative tendencies. It was hard for me at university to manage all the "normal" stuff (like studying) alongside managing human stuff and health related stuff. It was something we tried quite hard to work on in the mentoring, but I struggled with it anyway (still do).

Whilst I was at university I did see a counsellor in my second year provided by my university and in my final year I saw a specialist trauma psychologist alongside my mentor - as I said, they provide different things and you will find out more when you start working with them, mainly because it is tailored to you. If you're not already under the care of a mental health team and you want to see a psychologist, you'd need to be referred to secondary care to get access to them.

It's quite fuzzy my memory of this as I graduated in 2016 and had a pretty awful final year in terms of health (mental and physical) and also due to other things, but overall I wouldn't have graduated without their help and it was strongly suggested I drop out, but I wasn't sure I'd go back if I did, so I stayed.

Not sure if this made sense, but yeah, if you need any clarification, just ask. Also apologies for the length lol. There's also the MHSS and various people in there also have specialist MH mentors as well, so you could ask them? You're more than welcome to ask any other questions, or drop me a message I don't mind.
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Anonymous #1
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Funnily enough I used to be a support worker, now I think I'm in need of one! Your MH mentor sounds like someone who I would also benefit from, especially given that yours was also a trained therapist so I can cross my fingers. Dissociating is a problem I have too, or I am hyper aware of everything and everyone around me- instead of listening to the lecturer or my tutor, I am focused solely on how I am sitting, the noises around me, whether or not people are looking at me, what they are thinking about (is it me) etc. It sounds like madness and it probably is, alas I can't help it. I tried getting into secondary care through a GP referral, but they said they couldn't do that. The counselling service needs to refer me, is this correct? It seems like a nightmare trying to get secondary care, psychologists are very hard to access. A few other questions I have for you is, how was your attendance overall? Did your attendance affect your final grade in any way? Did your tutors continuously badger you about why you didn't turn up to seminars or lectures? If they did, how did it make you feel and were they informed to stop?

It's great to hear you stuck it through, it gives me some hope. You are a warrior and you should be proud of yourself!
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Pathway
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Funnily enough I used to be a support worker, now I think I'm in need of one! Your MH mentor sounds like someone who I would also benefit from, especially given that yours was also a trained therapist so I can cross my fingers. Dissociating is a problem I have too, or I am hyper aware of everything and everyone around me- instead of listening to the lecturer or my tutor, I am focused solely on how I am sitting, the noises around me, whether or not people are looking at me, what they are thinking about (is it me) etc. It sounds like madness and it probably is, alas I can't help it. I tried getting into secondary care through a GP referral, but they said they couldn't do that. The counselling service needs to refer me, is this correct? It seems like a nightmare trying to get secondary care, psychologists are very hard to access. A few other questions I have for you is, how was your attendance overall? Did your attendance affect your final grade in any way? Did your tutors continuously badger you about why you didn't turn up to seminars or lectures? If they did, how did it make you feel and were they informed to stop?

It's great to hear you stuck it through, it gives me some hope. You are a warrior and you should be proud of yourself!
It's not easy to stop intrusive thoughts like that, it comes with time and practice though.

Different areas have different ways to get into secondary care. I'm not entirely sure why I never saw primary care first (aside from my GP), but I haven't. It could be something to discuss though? And it is hard to see specialist psychologists, mainly because of the lack of psychologists in services. My most recent psychologist used to work with a team of almost 10 psychologists but over the years it went down to 2, which is sad if you think about it.

I missed quite a lot of classes/lectures. As far as I know it didn't- the only module that counted attendance (for me) was some job related thing that I some how got distinction on anyway - if you passed it all three years you got distinction basically? That module also didn't affect my degree mark - I graduated with a 2.i initially, but due to my own health issues, my mum's cancer and losing one of mY best friends to suicide during the summer before final year, I was allowed to graduate with a resit that was uncapped, this changed my degree mark to a first overall.

There were modules that did count attendance though, I'm not sure how I would've dealt with that. I just got lucky and the modules I felt like doing didn't count attendance. Anyway, my attendance was monitored, but not in the same way as other students. If it was flagged that I hadn't attended, my support worker got in touch and asked what's up. She would make a note of what was the reason and because I had evidence of my issues on the system I didn't need to get any additional proof. The lecturers didn't badger me ever actually, they were all very understanding. I think partly because I was trying to be open and honest with them. I get that's not easy though and when I was earlier on in my degree I did blame a lot of my MH issues on physical stuff (e.g. instead of saying I've had a panic attack and I'm too anxious to go in today I'd say that I was in too much pain - which wasn't untrue, it just wasn't really the main reason).

Thank you, same to you. University can be done with MH problems, it's harder yes, but not impossible. I guess the main take away is be honest with what you're struggling with and if possible what you need from them (or be open to trying things they suggest).

Sorry this is long. I hope you are doing well.
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Blackstarr
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(Original post by Pathway)
It's not easy to stop intrusive thoughts like that, it comes with time and practice though.

Different areas have different ways to get into secondary care. I'm not entirely sure why I never saw primary care first (aside from my GP), but I haven't. It could be something to discuss though? And it is hard to see specialist psychologists, mainly because of the lack of psychologists in services. My most recent psychologist used to work with a team of almost 10 psychologists but over the years it went down to 2, which is sad if you think about it.

I missed quite a lot of classes/lectures. As far as I know it didn't- the only module that counted attendance (for me) was some job related thing that I some how got distinction on anyway - if you passed it all three years you got distinction basically? That module also didn't affect my degree mark - I graduated with a 2.i initially, but due to my own health issues, my mum's cancer and losing one of mY best friends to suicide during the summer before final year, I was allowed to graduate with a resit that was uncapped, this changed my degree mark to a first overall.

There were modules that did count attendance though, I'm not sure how I would've dealt with that. I just got lucky and the modules I felt like doing didn't count attendance. Anyway, my attendance was monitored, but not in the same way as other students. If it was flagged that I hadn't attended, my support worker got in touch and asked what's up. She would make a note of what was the reason and because I had evidence of my issues on the system I didn't need to get any additional proof. The lecturers didn't badger me ever actually, they were all very understanding. I think partly because I was trying to be open and honest with them. I get that's not easy though and when I was earlier on in my degree I did blame a lot of my MH issues on physical stuff (e.g. instead of saying I've had a panic attack and I'm too anxious to go in today I'd say that I was in too much pain - which wasn't untrue, it just wasn't really the main reason).

Thank you, same to you. University can be done with MH problems, it's harder yes, but not impossible. I guess the main take away is be honest with what you're struggling with and if possible what you need from them (or be open to trying things they suggest).

Sorry this is long. I hope you are doing well.
Hey Pathway!
I am wondering if you could give me some advice

I am a first year nursing student at university and had my DSA assessment done in December. My report came through with "reasonable adjustments such as extra time and study skills" which is fine but i just never wanted to be limited to this kind of support only.

When i was younger at primary and secondary school, i always had support like extra time and a reader during exams and speech and language therapy. I was always at the bottom of the pit in all of my school classes including GCSES and thats why there was always a teaching assistant supervising me and other students to help us out etc.

The needs assesment was just a spelling test and a reading test and a writing test. which i passed averagly so the lady said i don't have dyslexia. However, i am still struggling acacemically, i find it hard to put my thoughts into words and write academically. I have mentioned to the needs assessment lady that i find it hard to read books and my concentration is off. Like reading page number 2 when i have forgotten what happened in page number 1.

When i lived in Poland before coming to the UK, i was diagnosed with ADHD...........now in England......nothing was chased up about it and i genuinely feel like i still suffer with ADHD symptoms because its not something that goes away and can stay till adulthood etc. Every time i am in lectures my mind wonders and i keep forgetting always nearly everything like keys and general stuff.

I have spoken to my lecture about support and she said get a needs assement done which i did.

I am wondering now if i go to my doctors and get a confirmaton of ADHD will i be able to process my DSA to get a reading software to help with my reading and like a mind mapping software to help organise and link my research togeether or a note taking software so i could place my lecture notes and recordings there? because i was sort of looking at thus support but never mentioned thus directly to the needs assesment lady nor my ADHD but i did tell her about my past struggles in schools etc


sorry for the ramble.....my writing is like a 5 year olf typing


Thank you
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Pathway
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(Original post by Blackstarr)
Hey Pathway!
I am wondering if you could give me some advice

I am a first year nursing student at university and had my DSA assessment done in December. My report came through with "reasonable adjustments such as extra time and study skills" which is fine but i just never wanted to be limited to this kind of support only.

When i was younger at primary and secondary school, i always had support like extra time and a reader during exams and speech and language therapy. I was always at the bottom of the pit in all of my school classes including GCSES and thats why there was always a teaching assistant supervising me and other students to help us out etc.

The needs assesment was just a spelling test and a reading test and a writing test. which i passed averagly so the lady said i don't have dyslexia. However, i am still struggling acacemically, i find it hard to put my thoughts into words and write academically. I have mentioned to the needs assessment lady that i find it hard to read books and my concentration is off. Like reading page number 2 when i have forgotten what happened in page number 1.

When i lived in Poland before coming to the UK, i was diagnosed with ADHD...........now in England......nothing was chased up about it and i genuinely feel like i still suffer with ADHD symptoms because its not something that goes away and can stay till adulthood etc. Every time i am in lectures my mind wonders and i keep forgetting always nearly everything like keys and general stuff.

I have spoken to my lecture about support and she said get a needs assement done which i did.

I am wondering now if i go to my doctors and get a confirmaton of ADHD will i be able to process my DSA to get a reading software to help with my reading and like a mind mapping software to help organise and link my research togeether or a note taking software so i could place my lecture notes and recordings there? because i was sort of looking at thus support but never mentioned thus directly to the needs assesment lady nor my ADHD but i did tell her about my past struggles in schools etc


sorry for the ramble.....my writing is like a 5 year olf typing


Thank you
Hi,

Yeah, getting more recent evidence would help you if you ask for a reassessment or a top up of your needs assessment. I got various pieces of software from DSA, including mind mapping, note taking, software that reads what's on the screen, dictation stuff (still use some of this stuff today and I'm not even studying anymore). I had a top up to my DSA in second year with the addition of the specialist MH mentor for example. My individual exam arrangements were also adjusted to accommodate my issues as well. They're aware things change and that's why they allow for top ups to DSA.

It can't hurt to ask for help. I'd encourage you to.
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Blackstarr
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(Original post by Pathway)
Hi,

Yeah, getting more recent evidence would help you if you ask for a reassessment or a top up of your needs assessment. I got various pieces of software from DSA, including mind mapping, note taking, software that reads what's on the screen, dictation stuff (still use some of this stuff today and I'm not even studying anymore). I had a top up to my DSA in second year with the addition of the specialist MH mentor for example. My individual exam arrangements were also adjusted to accommodate my issues as well. They're aware things change and that's why they allow for top ups to DSA.

It can't hurt to ask for help. I'd encourage you to.
so do i then just contact the person wo initially done my needs assessment to re asess me etc?

whats a top up assessment?
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Pathway
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(Original post by Blackstarr)
so do i then just contact the person wo initially done my needs assessment to re asess me etc?

whats a top up assessment?
I didn't, my support worker sorted it out for me, but then again my assessor was in the same building so yeah.

Top up assessments are what they sound like, they assess if your needs have changed, they might be like mine (written above) just on paper work or you might have to go into an actual assessment again, but it's not supposed to be stressful. They're nothing like PIP or ESA/UC assessments!
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Blackstarr
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(Original post by Pathway)
I didn't, my support worker sorted it out for me, but then again my assessor was in the same building so yeah.

Top up assessments are what they sound like, they assess if your needs have changed, they might be like mine (written above) just on paper work or you might have to go into an actual assessment again, but it's not supposed to be stressful. They're nothing like PIP or ESA/UC assessments!
Thank you for the reply
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Pathway
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(Original post by Blackstarr)
Thank you for the reply
No worries, sorry it took a little while to get back to you. Hopefully your student support department will be able to help you out.
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