“Don’t suffer alone” – A personal account of mental health support at University

 

by Kazuaki Ieuan Roach, 3rd year BSc Hons Software Engineering

When I first came to study at Mount Pleasant, my primary concern wasn’t what job I was looking to get with my qualification or how good my grades would be or how hard the workload was – it was whether I was going to pass at all. I’d already dropped out of another uni (not their fault at all, I just couldn’t hack it) and had spent two years since then in a part-time course at my local college building my courage back up – so naturally I was scared to go back into full-time education, living on my own in halls where I’d have to interact with others on a daily basis. To most people the idea that talking to others is scary might seem strange, but I promise you that for some people it is a very real fear.

 It wasn’t easy, not at all: there were many times when I felt demoralised and alone, gripped by the fear that this course would be a failure, just like the last – and worst of all that it would be all my fault. Desperate to do something, anything that might give me back some form of control, I talked to the Personal Tutor I’d been assigned and on his suggestion went down to Student Services to book a counselling appointment. I went to the first meeting with trepidation, but eventually came to relish the opportunity to talk about my problems in a quiet, calm environment where I didn’t have to fear any judgement or rejection. More than simple moral support my counsellors also gave me the practical advice I needed to help myself: mental techniques to help deal with my depression and anxiety issues.

 Mental illnesses are a scary subject to talk about. They never truly go away, since they’re more or less just an amplified version of what most people feel everyday – but with the sterling help of the people at Student Services and their counselling department I was able to find my feet and get to a place where my problems didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. With this much-needed perspective I was able to buckle down on my work and even begin socialising – and this year I was able to pick up the courage to move out of halls and into a house with some other students. When people talk to me these days they say they’d never have guessed that I used to suffer from depression – in fact some people say they preferred me back when I wasn’t so gobby, but I guess you can’t please everyone. 

I can’t guarantee that everyone will have the same success that I did, but one thing that I can promise you is that going to someone and talking about your problems is infinitely better than allowing your demons to convince you that no-one will understand what you’re going through. Even if you don’t go directly to the counsellors, all of the members of staff I’ve talked to in my time at UWTSD have been nothing but helpful and supportive to the utmost of their capabilities. I’m writing this now because I asked a lady from the marketing department if she would help me spread this message, because if there’s one thing that people with mental illnesses need it’s to be told that they don’t have to suffer alone – and of course she was only too happy to help me.

So please: if you’re like me, if you have the same kind of troubles that I did (and still do, to a much lesser extent), please take my word for it that you can rely on the good folk at UWTSD’s Student Services to help you out. They can help you with a wide array of problems aside from just counselling that’ll make your time studying that much easier. The first step is just talking to someone: from there, there’s an entire network of people whose job it is to help you bear the load, so try not to worry too much. If I made it, you definitely can.

Kazuaki Ieuan Roach, 3rd year student

Kazuaki Ieuan Roach, 3rd year student