This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2016, which has been dedicated this year to ‘relationships’.
I believe that the most important relationship you can have is with yourself, and for me, this is something that I’m slowly trying to rebuild after a particularly rocky past few years.
Instead of dipping into the ins and outs of my mental health (you can read all about that on my blog which is linked below), I thought I’d type something up about getting help when you need it, and not being ashamed to speak up if you’re struggling.

As I’ve already mentioned, over the past few years, my head’s been giving me a hard time. This has caused my studies to suffer, and I haven’t achieved the grades that I know I could easily get had my mind been in the right place.
Mental health is a funny old thing: if you break your leg, then people can see what the problem is; but they often belittle mental health issues because they adopt the ‘seeing is believing’ mantra. I didn’t know that I was unwell for a long time, but when finally did, I was too scared to vocalise the way I’d been feeling for fear of someone putting me down further.

However, earlier in the week, I received an email about mitigating circumstances. It’s not something that I’d thought of pursuing before, because I thought I’d missed the boat, but I decided to go ahead and email for some advice anyway.
I had my first meeting with a lovely lady today, who was extremely helpful and sympathetic towards my case. Beforehand, I didn’t think she’d understand what I’d gone through, and that she’d be looking to trip me up at every opportunity. I couldn’t have been more wrong. She was kind, friendly, and was 100% on my side. She wants me to win this appeal and for me to get the marks that I deserve, and I’m so happy that I went to see her.

The lady also encouraged me to make a medical appointment and book a counselling session. Even though my head-space is much better at the moment, I’m prone to relapse, and she thought it’d be a good idea to talk about it with a professional and get them to write things down, should I ever need to access help again in the future. This is something that I’d never even considered: the thought of counselling seems so alien to me, but talking things over with this lady made me see sense, and so I’ve booked a session for tomorrow morning.

Before I spoke to this lovely woman, I assumed that the University Support Service and the mitigating circumstances board would be a group of beardy old men, judging me as a vulnerable young woman with a messed-up brain. I’m so glad that I emailed this lady on a whim, because she has been nothing but supportive since her first reply, and has made me feel like I’m in with a fighting chance of achieving the grades I want for my graduation this July.

To anybody that may be facing a similar struggle, do not do what I’ve done and just ignore the student support services. They have been put in place to make sure that the young people attending the university get all the help they need to fulfil their maximum potential.
Nobody is against you and nobody will judge you: the only person that can hold you back from this wonderful service is yourself.

Read about Mental Health Awareness Week here.

Hear more from Sophie by following her blog

(Featured image credit: Charity helping hands and trees vector taken from Used under the Creative Commons Licence.)