‘Students bullied me because of my mental health and it nearly drove me to suicide’
The uni needs to sort out how they deal with mental health, but so do we
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about how UoB was rated the tenth worst university in the UK for dealing with mental health. While I’m not dismissing that aspect at all, it seems to me that this is merely one aspect of the treatment of people with mental health problems. Many people seem to be solely blaming the uni staff and not taking the time to look at how other student’s reactions can also majorly impact on a person’s mental health.
The Tab recently interviewed a student about their experiences with the staff at UoB, and now another student has shared their experiences regarding mental health at UoB, particularly regarding responses from fellow students.
This student first started having problems with other students during her first year at university. Having had a fairly longstanding mental health condition which got worse when she moved to university, she did what any of us would do in a difficult situation; she turned to her friends for support. However, when she did so, she was met with verbal abuse, scorn, and even mockery from many.
She told the Tab: “I remember one incident when one of them said I was insane and ‘fucked up’ because I had anxiety and that I should be locked up in a mental institution. Another said she didn’t want anything more to do with me because it might be ‘contagious’.
“And things like this happened loads of times. I couldn’t believe that anyone could be so blinkered about something which affects so many people. The fact that it wasn’t just anyone saying these things, that it was people I’d socialised with and who knew me, made me feel like absolute crap.
“The constant abuse, snipes, and derogatory comments made me start to believe what they said and I was scared to even leave the house.”
While some of her friends did stick by her, she lost even more because of the pressure these people put them under: “They stood up for me at first but eventually they couldn’t deal with the pressure they were put under by the people saying these things. It was easier for them not to be friends with me.”
Anyone who has undergone any type of bullying throughout their life will know just how awful it makes you feel. When you already have a mental health condition, it just makes things worse. There is no excuse for it.
Many mental health sufferers all over the country are calling for people, especially young people, to be better educated in mental health. While the University of Birmingham does offer support for those suffering, it does not currently offer any form of education for those who do not have any knowledge of mental health and it is the same case in schools all over the country.
The student added: “I have spoken to the welfare team regarding the bullying which is still ongoing. I found them really understanding and helpful but there was only so much they could do. It’s not a problem which can be solved without people like this being educated and more informed about mental health in general.”
Maybe it’s time we took responsibility and educated ourselves about issues such as these. There are many websites and organisations worldwide which aim to raise awareness and combat the stigma surrounding mental health. We are all adults now, and we should know better than to bully someone, especially for something which we have not taken the time to understand.
After all, mental health isn’t a small subject. One in four people will suffer from it at some point during their lives and a positive response from others is one of the key parts to many peoples recovery.