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For the Person Who Fought for My Mental Health Behind the Scenes

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Since moving away to university, putting together a new support system has been harder than ever. In a bigger city, funds are even more sparse and specialist support is unreliable and hard to reach on a good day. However, I do believe my sanity has been saved by one person working hard behind the scenes away from clinics and the NHS, my university mentor.

I first met my mentor in January 2017 during a period of time when I really was struggling with paranoia and severe anxiety. I was experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations, finding it hard to leave my university dorms. Life was hard and I was away from my family. I was provided my mentor through Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) and didn’t expect much prior to meeting her. I had already been let down so many times by systems that were meant to be help me, but I thought, “What’s one more let down?” I was instantly proved wrong.

From our first meeting, I felt instantly reassured. She told me she was a mental health nurse now working with students at my university. She knew all the issues surrounding mental health support and instantly knew and could sympathize with everything I was saying. From then on we met up every week for an hour. It became my safe place, a place where worries could be solved. If I didn’t want to ring my psychiatrist because of unpleasant receptionists, she would call. If I needed something from the university or support with a trip, she would email the right people right away. I soon came out of my paranoid and anxious state with her help and guidance. I honestly could’t have done it without her. Even when things were going well, we still met weekly. She gave me guidance and advice that helped me function and do well at university. I passed my first year with good marks due to her help making sure I had special provisions put in place effectively.

I recently began my second year and we do the same, meet once a week for an hour with the option for more time if I need it. Recently the anxiety and paranoia have crept back it, but university didn’t feel as scary this time knowing I had my mentor there if I needed her. She has kept my welfare tutor notified of what I am struggling with so I don’t have to face the anxiety of it, and even spent 15 minutes on hold on a number that charges by the minute when I couldn’t face speaking to a stranger on the other end.

It is people like my mentor working hard every day, mainly on their own, who deserve more recognition for the work they do. My mentor sees multiple students on a daily basis, she sits and listens to their individual struggles and gives advice and helps each and every one of them, a job that is no doubt mentally and physically draining. Every week she meets me with a smile on her face and positive energy. I can’t put into words how grateful I am for everything she has done for me and supported me through, yet I can’t help feel she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves for her huge heart and hard work. This is my way of saying thank you for all the work you have done and will continue to do.

Laura, people like you are truly the mighty behind the scenes.

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Getty image via finwa

Originally published: January 4, 2018
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