Student with severe anxiety waited a ‘terrifying’ five weeks for help from Sheffield Uni

Her anxiety was so bad an ambulance was called out twice

A student from the University of Sheffield has spoken out on her “terrifying” experience after she was forced to wait over five weeks for a therapy session.

She first contacted Student Access to Mental Health Support (SAMHS) on 19 October, but after waiting until 12 November for an initial assessment, a therapy session wasn’t available until 28 November.

The student, who wished to remain anonymous,  was experiencing severe anxiety attacks that were so bad an ambulance had to be called on two occasions.

“Anyone with anxiety will tell you that it affects everything in your life,” she told The Tab.

“For me, it means I can’t sleep and find it hard to eat because it makes me feel nauseous. I only have two face-to-face seminars a week and I’ve missed four so far because of anxiety attacks. I miss a lot of opportunities because it makes day-to-day life a struggle.”

SAMHS is designed to support students with their mental health, with appointments between an expert and the individual. They aim to guarantee a wait time of no longer than 15 working days but admit that it wasn’t met for a period in the middle of the semester.

It comes following students’ mental health plummeting and one in four submissions to Sheffessions being mental health related.

“The university needs to divert more funding and resources to SAMHS. It is an absolutely vital service that can save lives if it’s available when we need it,” the student continued.

A University of Sheffield spokesperson said: “We understand this has been an incredibly difficult year for students and we encourage any student who is struggling with their mental health to contact us so we can support them. We’re sorry to hear of any student who hasn’t received the level of support they need.

“Throughout the pandemic, all of our student support services have been open and available online and all students also have 24/7 access to emotional and mental health advice through the TogetherAll service. The Student Space web resource also provides free direct support for students via phone, text and email.

“We contact all students who have notified us that they are self-isolating to check on their welfare and offer practical and emotional support. Students who are self-isolating are offered a fast track to mental health support.

“Receiving feedback from our students is important in helping us ensure our services are meeting students’ needs and expectations and we encourage our students to let us know if they have any concerns to help us improve.”

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