How a Hatfield student got the mental health support she needed

PUBLISHED: 11:21 11 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:21 11 October 2018

Elin celebrates achieving a 2:1 despite struggles with depression. Picture: supplied by the University of Hertfordshire

Elin celebrates achieving a 2:1 despite struggles with depression. Picture: supplied by the University of Hertfordshire

supplied by the University of Hertfordshire

A graduate from the University of Hertfordshire has urged students to speak out if they are struggling with depression.

Following World Mental Health Day on October 10, English literature and history graduate Elin Dahlberg revealed that starting university coincided with one of the most challenging times of her life as regards her mental health.

“Starting university was truly such a dream of mine, but sadly my mental health was just not stable at the time,” said Elin.

Originally from Sweden, but now living in Hatfield, Elin has struggled with depression from the age of 15.

Her mood swings vary from feeling very depressed to extremely happy.

However, starting university meant she no longer had her usual support system, such as her family, close by.

Elin struggled to meet deadlines for her coursework and was often unable to attend lectures.

Fortunately, the University of Hertfordshire helps staff to recognise when students may be experiencing mental health issues.

It was one of Elin’s lecturers who perceptively realised that she was under enormous pressure and referred her to the university’s Student Wellbeing services.

Lena Kloos, head of Student Wellbeing at the University, said: “Mental health support is integrated into all our services, and we also have our own specialist mental health team.

“We always act as quickly as we can to help students who need our support, whether it be their first experience of mental health difficulties or a longer term condition.”

Intent on finishing her degree, Elin took the decision to defer her second year of studies whilst she sought help. “Despite being put onto a waiting list, I managed to get help sooner than I thought I would,” said Elin.

The university risk-assesses the urgency of any situation and can support students with mental health issues in a number of ways. This includes various tactics for helping them manage their difficulties, linking them with the appropriate expert support, and, if they are seriously unwell, liaising with NHS mental health services to get a fast assessment.

Elin was referred to the local NHS Adult Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Services for an initial assessment, and was assigned a counsellor - who proved to be the key part of her recuperation.

“I am extremely grateful to my counsellor for the help and support he gave me,” said Elin.

“He made himself available whenever I needed to talk to someone, even during school holidays when I wasn’t on campus.”

Elin is keen to encourage more students to talk about their mental health issues.

“Mental health is no longer such a taboo subject in the UK.

“It’s something that more and more people are recognising as a genuine issue.

“As I came to realise, it’s critical to talk to people about the difficulties you may be experiencing.

“Course leaders and lecturers are very understanding if you come forward in time and they were extremely supportive, extending deadlines and helping me with my coursework. I can’t praise them enough.”

“The support I received from the University helped me manage my mental health as I completed my final year exams. I’m proud that I achieved a 2:1, whilst also working at a local call centre.”

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