September has arrived and along with the ever increasing evidence that the sun has now left Britain for the next 5 months, we’re all back at school/college/uni. Yayyyy! Or maybe not…This can be a daunting time of year for many. Particularly due to having new classes, new teachers, new schedules, new dorms and possibly even a new school. All of this can be seriously anxiety provoking to most, but even more so for those of us who struggle with mental illness. For us there can be added fears, such as: What if I can’t complete the work? What if there’s no support? What if things get too much? These thoughts can get caught up and snowball in our minds to the point where things can get quite overwhelming, very fast. So I’ve thought up some tips for those of you who may be struggling within the education system and hopefully they may help. Of course these may not be applicable to everyone as I can only base them off my own experience, but I’ll try my absolute best to have them accommodate as many areas as possible.
1) Access Support Within the School if Possible
Every school/sixth form/university should have a support service within the establishment. It’s mandatory for them to have this in place to support anyone who may need it. This can be an extremely helpful area of school to open up communications with, as if you struggle in certain areas within lessons, they can help accommodate your needs to make your experience within the lesson as positive as possible. I understand though that this can be an extremely daunting prospect and thus could deter people from seeking help. What I would recommend would be to have someone come along with you whom you feel comfortable with. This could be a parent, a friend, another teacher or really anyone who you feel understands you. This can often lift some of the pressure. Alternatively, you could write a letter and ask for it to be handed to the key support service within the school. This way you can be honest without having to talk face to face. You could also phone up and ask to speak to them over the phone, so similarly, you can be honest without having to have a face conversation.
2) External Support
Now, we have to realistic and unfortunately not all schools may actively promote a support service (even though they should) or maybe you’ve had a bad experience with the in school support services, so this is where external support becomes even more crucial. I need to add that I would recommend external support even if you are involved with your own school support service as well. It can be a good backup if you’re able to access it. External support could be seeing a psychologist as part of a mental health service, such as CAMHS or adult services. Having a specific friend or parent that you feel able to talk to if things are tricky, or maybe an online support group if you don’t feel as comfortable talking to those around you. As much as it feels like we spend our eternity within the school grounds, we do actually spend a substantial amount of time at home, which is why having the support out of school is so important.
3) Make 3 Points of Contact
School is school and that means there’s unfortunately going to be stress. It’s pretty much unavoidable no matter how prepared we are, so make sure to prepare 3 points of contact. When things start to pile up and you feel like things are slipping a little, try and possibly have 3 designated people that you can go talk to and hopefully relieve some of the stress. A good thing to do would be to maybe structure it like this –
Person #1 – When you just need to rant or complain about life because everyone needs to sometimes! Or maybe it could be about school related things. This could be a friend, or classmate. Sometimes talking about the small things can make a huge difference.
Person #2 – When things are beginning to get more complaicated and now maybe friends are unable to understand. At this point you could go to a teacher or a parent. Someone who listens and would be able to help you take the appropriate steps forward if that’s what’s needed. Try not to repress yourself because you feel like your feelings are not important enough. They are very much important and deserve to be talked about. Leaving worries unsolved will end up making them even bigger.
Person #3 – Not everyone may have a person 3, but for me this would be my psychologist. I feel the most comfortable talking about the most difficult worries with her. She’s who I would confide in when things have gotten really quite bad (side note, psychologists aren’t just there for the most difficult issues, you could 100% go to them for smaller worries, or even if you just needed someone to talk to.) Another alternative for person 3 for me would be a helpline. They can be a very useful point of contact.
Please don’t underestimate the power of talking!
4) Little Extras
Sometimes little extras can help make things go a slightly more smoothly. For me, this is to try and keep everything planned a up to date. I’ve bought a diary to keep all my important deadlines and homework recorded in. This way I feel I’m more able to keep a lid on things building up, because I’m prone to forgetting everything and before I know it I have 3 essays to write and 4 classes of notes to write up and having that on top of trying to deal with the trash my mental illnesses throw at me 24/7, can be quite detrimental. I end up burning out quick. So if you’re like me and tend to forget a lot, a planner or a calendar may be a good thing to invest in. Or if you’re often late, try and plan your mornings around an earlier start. Try and pinpoint an area you struggled with last year and see if you can make any little changes to help. This may not be applicable to all, but sometimes little extras can help.
So that concludes my tips, feel free to add anymore suggestions in the comments. 🙂 Hopefully this was somewhat helpful?…Or at least okay to read.
I wish you all a fab week to come, you’ve got this.