Thursday 1 July 2021

Asking for help

Lauren shares her experience about asking for help with my mental health at university and receiving zoom counselling.
- Lauren

Asking for help can be difficult, but it can also be the best thing for you. 

Completing my third and final year of university during a global pandemic is not how I saw my university experience coming to an end. To say that my mental health was at an all-time low would be an understatement, but fortunately, I was able to receive help. 

After months of struggling with motivation and extremely low moods, I finally submitted a form to my university’s mental wellbeing counselling service. However, I had many doubts in my mind. I wasn’t sure if it was too late in the year to get any help, whether I would just be ignored or whether I was being silly. Some days I would tell myself that my feelings were completely natural during an unexpected lockdown and that everyone was experiencing the same feelings of anxiety and discontent; other days I’d berate myself for feeling anything negative at all.

Within a matter of days after reaching out for help, I received an email from the university informing me that I got an appointment scheduled for the coming week with a counsellor. That was fast. I had heard from students that trying to get an appointment was like trying to find a needle in a haystack, mostly useless and disappointing. Although the sudden reply was a relief, I was also extremely sceptical and scared to talk to a stranger about how I had been feeling for the past few months. Luckily, it turned out to be exactly what I needed. 

Although I only had five sessions, 1 hour each week, I found myself at ease with my counsellor and hearing an unbiased perspective about what I was feeling made a huge difference. Often, we are told to talk to friends and family about the difficulties we’re facing and although this is true and can be helpful, it can also be useful to have a qualified outsider listen and help guide us. In my situation, I found that my counsellor was able to help me to pinpoint exactly how I was feeling, notice when these feelings arose and consider ways to improve my coping skills. After each session, I found that I felt a little bit lighter. 

Of course, I wasn’t magically ‘fixed’ but my counsellor gave me the skills and confidence to identify when I was being particularly hard on myself and use the techniques we’ve discussed to cope with these difficult moments. The only downside is that these appointments ended within the space of a month, as my final exams approached, and I felt I needed a few more sessions. Talking to the counsellor had made a really big impact on me during some of my lowest moments and it has encouraged me to look for other low-cost counselling that I can continue to utilise when I need it. 

I know that asking for help in the moments where you may feel at your lowest and most alone is difficult. It is not easy to be vulnerable in front of people we do not know and share things we may never have talked about before. Yet turning up to that first appointment, as nervous as I may have felt, was one of the best decisions I made. We all need and deserve help, and asking for it, although this may seem terrifying, is often the first step to a road where we’re able to feel a million times better.

You can visit Student Space to explore online resources, access direct support via text, phone, web chat or email and find the support available at your place of study. 

I'm Lauren, a third-year student and I hope that sharing my story will encourage others to seek help when they may need it.

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