Campaign: Stop University Students Falling Through The Net When Receiving Care Between Home And University

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Angela shares her experience receiving support between home and university and why she is campaigning for change.
-Angela Hulbert

Student mental health is hot in the press. In 2015, 15,000 students disclosed a mental health condition, but despite the fact that students are encouraged to talk about their mental health, accessing help whilst a student can be incredibly difficult. With waiting lists incredibly long and only living on campus for 7 months of the year, accessing help can be almost impossible.

Here is my story: 

Throughout 2018, on my year abroad, my mental health took a nose dive to the point where I was having to fly back home from Italy during my stay. The GP saw me and explained to come back to see her once I was permanently back home in order to get some help. Once I moved back to the UK I approached my GP back home asking for help. I was often suicidal, self-harming & my mental health was taking a toll on my physical health. The GP said she wanted to refer me to the mental health unit so I could see a psychiatrist & access more in depth help but due to the fact that I was registered at the university GP (100 miles from home) I couldn’t be referred. I was told I couldn’t re-register when I asked to. So at 21, still not taken seriously, my mum had to get involved which eventually resulted in me being able to re-register at my Home GP. I was referred for Therapy For You an IAPT service where I was then told I could access a text service (not what I needed when I was rapidly loosing hope), once I declined this & pushed for the fact that I wanted to see a human being I eventually got put on a waiting list. I would be seen that summer.

Except I wasn’t. September rolled around & 1 week before moving to university, I received the phone call that a spot had opened up. I explained I was going back to university & could I do fortnightly sessions so that I would be able to commute? Once again I was refused because it had to be weekly sessions, something my timetable & my bank balance couldn’t allow for. Still to this day I have not received any help, just on another waiting list, 4 months after asking initially for help.

I have fallen through the gap. Being a university student, spending 7 months at university & the rest at home but only registered to one GP makes accessing help for your mental health incredibly difficult. Had I gone to the GP that very first time with a lump in my breast that they too were worried about I would have been referred to a specialist then & there to have it checked out even though I was a guest in that practice.

When I took to social media to share my story, my inboxes flooded with stories of students who too have been refused help for both their mental and physical health, some ending tragically with a loss in life. A change needs to happen. Our generation is constantly told to be open about our mental health but when we are the support isn’t always available.

Students shouldn’t be falling through the net. I have decided that I want to ignite a change and I have created a government petition to allow students to register to 2 GP’s. Since creating the petition I have been made aware that dual registration for students may not be the right solution for this problem. Nevertheless a solution needs to be found so that students can receive full ongoing care.

A change starts off small but could help the generations to come. I urge students, parents and everyone and anyone who wants a better system for our young people to please sign this petition as we search for the right solution to this complex problem.

I’m Angela, a French and Italian student with a huge passion for mental health which comes from my own battle with mental illness. Little by little I am hoping that the conversations I have with those around me and on my blog will make a change to someone, somewhere.