University is great fun but it can be a stressful experience. Living away from home and facing a new amount of independence can be both liberating and overwhelming. Luckily, there are many different ways to get support at York. As someone who has experienced long term mental illness, the support services available at York have proved invaluable in allowing me to continue my studies. This blog lists just some of the services available.
Your College Team
When I first began to struggle at uni, I turned to my college team for support. One of the benefits of a collegiate system is that you’re assigned a college tutor. They are there to provide you with support if you need it.
My tutor was really helpful. She was a similar age to me but was extremely mature and understanding, and pointed me in the direction of other resources that I might not have been aware of. Obviously, your college tutor is not a therapist or psychologist. But they are there to listen and will help you get in touch with people who may be able to assist you more specifically with your problems. You can also speak to other people within the college system. For example, your STYM (second and third year mentor) or, if necessary, your head of college.
Open Door is a University counselling group who can provide a professional level of emotional support. You can refer yourself to the team through a simple online form and should be seen fairly quickly once that is completed. I, and others I know, have hugely benefited from the support of the Open Door team. They can also provide support on a long term basis if necessary.
One of the things I have found particularly useful about Open Door is that they always have a duty practitioner available during office hours for urgent appointments. This means that if you are having a particularly hard time you can get an appointment at short notice.
I only have experience as a theatre student, so I cannot speak for the staff in every department. However, I can say that the support I have received from the Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media has been exceptional.
At University, you’re assigned a supervisor. My supervisor has always been there to support me when things become difficult. Like your college tutor, your supervisor will not necessarily be able to help you directly with your issues in the way a counsellor or therapist would. However, they can act as a signpost to other resources and provide advice about the courses of action you can take. For example, when I have been struggling to the point that I have needed time off from my studies, my supervisor explained the difference between taking a short term break and a formal leave of absence (which is a more complicated, long term arrangement). This was useful in allowing me to make an informed choice about how long to go home for. Plus, my supervisor contacted the appropriate tutors to warn them of my absence which minimised the stress of the situation.
The Disability Services team can help you set up a student support plan if you have a disability or long-term health condition, including mental health issues.
A student support plan is personally tailored to you. It’s sent to the tutors in your department to help them to support you to the best of their ability. It also has practical implications. Through your student support plan, you can access a mentor who can assist you with your academic workload management. Plus it can ease the process of getting extensions on essays if necessary, by avoiding the traditional route of filling in a form and providing evidence, which can cause extra stress.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of the support available at university. Mental health first aiders, nightline (a term time, student-run listening service) and workshops are also available to improve your mental health. For more details on support available visit:
Read more student blogs about support at York
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