I found a culture of acceptance here. It was very positive and encouraging
When I was first looking at universities to apply to after A Levels, I did want to find out if there was an awareness of and support there for mental health issues.
Quite a few universities didn’t have anything at all in place, they were almost surprised to even be asked. Some others basically said, ‘Look, that’s a matter for you and your GP, not us.’ Queen’s was definitely different. There was a culture there of acceptance, of really trying to look out for students. I found that very positive and encouraging. I wouldn’t say it was the only reason that I applied here, but it was certainly a factor, an incentive.
What’s more, that also made it a bit easier on my family who were worried about me moving over here from England to a place where I didn’t really know anyone or have any connection. They knew there were resources and help in place if I needed them.
You have to find what works for you
I’d grown up dealing with issues around depression and anxiety. It was part of me, part of life. I wanted to deal with it, really confront it. But apart from my family, there wasn't much of a support network around me at school from staff and other students. That was difficult. And getting access to the help that’s right for you, that’s the crucial thing. It has to be what’s right for you, what works for you. Not somebody else’s idea of what you should do. Eventually I did begin working with a counsellor, and that’s been great for me. And even now though I’m living in Belfast, I’ve stayed with that counsellor.
Find someone to talk to. And trust your mates
I share a flat with a couple of mates I knew slightly from home, and at first I was reluctant to open up about my mental health. You worry about being accepted, if it will change things, make things awkward, don’t you? But to be honest, once I talked about it, they were great. They just accepted it and we got on with things. No judgment, nothing like that. It hasn’t become a big deal between us or anything. We look out for each other, that’s the main thing. I’ve made some good friends here too, and I’ve been open with them as well. Again, it’s not an issue. And I suppose the thing to take from that is I know I’m not on my own. Nobody is or has to be. So I’d say to anyone who’s having difficulty, find someone to speak to. Student Disability and Wellbeing are there. And there are other resources too.
So reach out, ask. And the other thing is, trust your friends. They’re your mates for a reason.
Mental Health issues can affect anyone at any time. But confidential, professional help is available through the University.
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