Zara Young, aged 19, from Faversham, is a student at the University of Kent. She is studying towards a degree in Psychology and plans to become a Clinical Psychologist. 

Here she tells her story of her journey to university in her own words.

“For so long university wasn’t even an option for me. I never thought I could do it, with all the challenges I had faced with my mental health and self-confidence. However, I knew that the career that I wanted to go into would need a degree, so I took the first step to go to a university open day.

“I chose the University of Kent for a multitude of reasons, the main one being the support available for students with mental health needs, as I struggle with anxiety.

“No one really talks about this when you’re applying to university, so I found out about it by doing my own research and talking to student ambassadors. They were very open in sharing their experiences and gave me so much reassurance, which made me realise that accessing support isn’t as daunting as I thought it would be.

“My biggest fear about going to university was simply that I wouldn’t be able to do it and that I would fail. I thought that in university you are a lone wolf who must find their way through this new adventure completely independently. This is not the case!

“I’ve received both academic support through academic advisors, and I have an ambassador mentor who meets with me regularly to see how I am doing. This has meant if I do have any concerns about anything, there is always a safe space I can go to. I also have a mental health advisor who checks in regularly to see how I’m doing.

“The most enjoyable part of university has been seeing the person I have grown into. It is not just about academic achievements; it is more about the personal achievements I have made.

“To anyone else considering university with a mental health need, my main piece of advice is to reach out! Higher education is challenging, and it is more than okay to admit that you would like some support for any of your needs. It can be incredibly daunting and can often feel like you are making yourself vulnerable, but trust me when I say, there is no shame in asking for help. The university is here for you! They want you to have the best experience possible. You are not a lone wolf, there are always others who are with you on this journey every step of the way.”

If you have a disability or long-term health condition and would like more support and advice about applying to Higher Education, visit our Disabled Students section.

If you are a SEND education professional, sign up for our SEND Progression Partnership newsletter on our SEND PP page.

Lucy King

25 Nov 2021

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