‘It was only as term resumed that I realised I couldn’t cope’

The first of your university mental health stories

Have you struggled with mental health issues whilst studying at York? This February, we want to publish your positive or negative experiences of dealing with the university's mental health services.

If you'd like to tell your story, you can email us confidentially at: [email protected]


With only days before first term of second year were to start, the looming anxiety of classes, peers and student life was already too much.

My first year had started on a high. I lived with seemingly lovely housemates, enjoyed a vibrant social and love life, and was academically sound.

Only as the year progressed did the frequency of days where getting out of bed seemed too challenging increase, and those close housemates turned spiteful and cruel.

A previous referral from a home GP meant that Unity Health knew my situation, though with one appointment in first term, it was all too easy to slip off the radar. Of course, this was my own fault – not the university’s, though in a position so disenchanted I was unable to help myself and I let my depression perpetuate.

Roll on to September, where my depression, now major, meant I seldom left the house. Still with friends and the prospect of an active social life, I turned these opportunities away in my hopelessness and disinterest.

It was only as term resumed that I realised I couldn’t cope, and there was no way I could be a functioning student sitting in lecture theatres in just a weeks time. With an email to my subject co-ordinator, I briefly explained my point and said I would be seeking help. With minimal hassle, I was allowed a leave of absence, and my tutors were notified on my behalf, with discretion.

This process was a great relieve of stress and handled very well by the university. My mental health issues, being so deep-set, were not going to go away within a matter of a couple of weeks, so under instruction from my home GP I requested a year of absence from university due to depression, anxiety and at this stage, suicidal ideation. Having to call my parents and try and explain how I was feeling was the turning point for me as it was then that I finally admitted just how bad I was and accepted I was in no position to help myself.

I received a phone call from the relevant director in my department and rather than having to explain my feelings, it was a case of ensuring that I am safe and asking what the university can do for me. I received emails from my tutor (the same professor) occasionally throughout my year of absence just to check in on me, and I can’t stress enough how well the department handled my situation.

Now resuming my studies after receiving intense counselling and medication at home, I am in a far better position to both address and enjoy student life.

I feel confident and assured to know should any issues re-emerge, or in the case of other students who find themselves in my position, the university is sympathetic to mental health illness and can help appropriately.