How is mental health treated at Royal Holloway?
One student was told to ‘man up’
University can be a scary time for some people – especially if you suffer with a mental illness. You’re away from home, balancing money, a social life and endless assignments. I spoke to students at Royal Holloway about how they feel their mental illness has been treated here.
The Health Centre
When asked about how they felt the health centre dealt with their illness, I got a largely mixed response from the students. One student stated ‘It’s scary how quickly they’re willing to offer you medication to deal with the problem. Medication is such a dangerous substance, the fact that students can access it that quickly is really worrying’.
This point about medication was a highly debated subject – people that felt medication was the right step for them were pleased with how quickly the health centre managed to prescribe it. Others, however, that felt medication was not the right step for them, felt angry that they weren’t offered much else in a way of help. Although doctors suggested counselling, it was left up to the patient to set it up them self. This brought up the topic of ‘can you trust a patient that is scared and unwell to do this?’
Overall, students felt that the counselling sessions themselves were incredibly helpful and the counsellors were happy to provide support. However, a reoccurring issue touched upon was the lack of appointments. ‘If you really pushed for an appointment and made a point of the fact you were an emergency case you would receive one straight away which is great – for those that don’t push (or are too scared to) you’ll be left waiting weeks.’
This comes down to the lack of counselling appointments available – almost every student I spoke to agreed more counsellors need to be hired.
This was one area that most students agreed responded to mental illness cases very well. Second year student Rebecca Wilson was particularly pleased with her department: ‘once I told my personal tutor the reasons for my absences, she was so good about it all. We regularly have chats about how things are going with me.’
One student did suggest it would be great to give more training to lecturers on how to handle these situations, as they ‘wanted to help but weren’t always sure how’. It was felt by the majority that if all lecturers had an understanding of the vast spectrum of mental illness they would feel more comfortable talking to a student in need.
The difference between illnesses
The biggest topic that presented a problem was the range in treatment between mental illnesses. It was felt that the more ‘well known’ illnesses were treated as important, whilst other more ‘obscure’ ones were dealt with particularly badly. One student who suffers with both Tourette’s and OCD said ‘I felt like my illness was being treated as a joke, it took months for anyone to help me and I had to really push for it.’
One male student said he was actually told to ‘man up’ as mental illnesses were treated as ‘feminine’. These points bring up the question of why people had had such different experiences at Royal Holloway. If students are being told they don’t suffer from ‘real’ mental illnesses or aren’t the right gender, is the uni really doing enough?
One student made a statement that pretty much sums it up: “Royal Holloway have really stepped up their game with mental illness – but it’s sort of a little too late. They’re constantly doing better but there’s still more they can do.”