Kirsty Britton takes a look at the different support services the University of Glasgow has for students who are struggling with mental health issues.
There are a striking number of university students who suffer from mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and some people may use unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking, drugs or self-harm. However, I strongly advise people to seek out healthier coping mechanisms because asking for external help is the best way to find the right resources you need. There are lots of factors that contribute to a person’s mental health, though the stress of university at times can be too much to handle. You do not need to go through it alone as there are accessible services at the University at Glasgow to make life as a student a little bit easier.
For those who may have trouble navigating these services or are unsure about what help is available, I will share my own experience with some of the services that the University has to offer and how to reach out when you need support. I am aware that it is not easy to reach out and admit that you are struggling, but I hope that I can make reaching out seem less intimidating and encourage you that your efforts will be worth it.
I was able to get back on my feet after a particularly difficult period with the help of Student Counselling, academic mental health officers and the Disability Services. By the time I reached out for help I was in desperate need of support. My mental health was deteriorating during the pandemic as I struggled with online University, a part time job and the inability to see my family and friends. The lack of social interaction was dragging my mood down which affected my ability to meet deadlines. I’m sure many of you can relate.
I got in touch with the Disability Services in October 2020 and contacted the Student Counselling Services in late November 2020, not long before I took sick leave from the University. The counselling sessions were invaluable as I could unload all my worries and have someone to talk to in a safe environment. You can make an appointment at any time for the Student Counselling and Psychological services on the University of Glasgow’s website. In addition to booking a block of counselling sessions, the University provides one-off counselling consultations. However, it is important to know that appointments are available from 9:00am on the day and are a first come, first served basis.
The Disability Services at the University provide support to students with physical and/or mental disabilities. They require evidence from a medical practitioner or psychologist stating that you have a long-term health condition and the effect this has on your studies. This service was a breakthrough for me in terms of support as I was given help with several aspects that were affecting my studies. In a need to apply for extensions for essays/exams, my disability adviser provided evidence for good cause applications. I also was provided with technology that would help with study techniques; for example, one resource was a text-to-speech software that helped me specifically with the readings I had. The Disability Services set up support sessions with a company called Clear Links – a study support service, which was and still is the most beneficial help I received. This entails a weekly support session which targets completing my studies whilst looking after my mental wellbeing. All these aids were thankfully funded by SAAS which is a great benefit for Scottish students.
Although I do believe that the University has a good range of mental health services available for students, the most useful ones are tailored to long term mental health conditions. I think that in comparison to what is offered through your GP, the University is quite progressive in its access to help. All the mental health services the University has are available on their website. I encourage everyone to look at these as it could help you or a friend to be aware of the support available. It is immensely important that you seek help as soon as you start to feel pressure on your mental health. As I know from experience, the longer you wait, the harder it is to reach out. There is no shame in asking for help.