What it’s like to suffer from anxiety at Warwick

‘I have been passed from person to person’


Suffering from anxiety could be seen as one of the most frightening experiences describable. Every aspect of daily life becomes a stress and panic attacks become almost an everyday feature.

Heart racing, you begin to shake. As your breathing quickens, you become more and more light-headed and your body temperature is everywhere. This can last for up to twenty-five minutes, and who is there to help?

Obviously, this is a hugely debilitating issue. Not only does it affect concentration, writing ability and, in some cases, sight, but it also directly impacts mine and others’ abilities to carry out daily activities, which most people would find easy. This is also often not an evident illness which can make sufferers feel even more alone.

So how bad is our university at dealing with these issues? In The Tab’s mental health survey, Warwick were ranked the fourth worst university for dealing with students with mental health problems.

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At university, there are some great individuals who will put their all into helping myself and up to 20 per cent of students who consider themselves to have at least one mental health problem. There are also felt like there were less helpful ones, who would seemingly rather treat the process as just that; a process, get the student in and get them out as quickly as possible.

However, I feel I have been passed from person to person, treated as more of a number in a process than an individual struggling with anxiety. Even the seemingly simple process to get special exam requirements induced a panic attack.

We study at one of the top ten universities in the country, so yes, we expect to get a good degree first and foremost. But surely if they are going to mount all of this pressure on us with deadlines, assignments and exams, which seem to begin the minute we set foot into Freshers’ Week, they should also be providing good mental heath support? Personally, one of the biggest struggles I have had with moving to university is the feeling of loneliness coming from a small school to a university of nearly 25,000 students, and this struggle was not helped by the lack of individuality I have felt throughout the mental health welfare process.

The comparison between individuals is astonishing. Some have been willing to give up hours of their time to talk to me and help me to find the correct pathway to best deal with my anxiety. Others have told me there is no evidence of my panic attacks and therefore I don’t need help. I have now been at the university for weeks and feel I have not yet received any actual care, other than from a seminar tutor, whose job is not to be helping her students through anxiety and mental health issues.

Moving to university is a big step anyway and for somebody with a mental health problem. This step can seem bigger still, so this issue should be viewed as urgent, not put on the side lines.