In this blog, I am going to talk about my own experiences of being in higher education as a care experienced person, but also as someone who suffers with a disability or more precisely someone who suffers with a mental health condition.
As many people these days know, the statistical number of people in adolescent and young adult years who develop a mental health condition is rising dramatically every single day. Statistics released by the mental health foundation, showed that they have found out that 50% of mental health issues are established by the age of 14, but 75% by the age of 24. (Mental Health Foundation, n.d.)
In my experience of being a former care experienced person and someone who has been diagnosed with mental health, going through the fostering system is extremely hard when having this condition as you never know what tomorrow will bring and how you will be feeling, especially when being on antidepressants or antipsychotics, but me going through higher education at university, i have got to say this was the worst as my mental health was all over the place due to being in a new environment and new city but never knowing what support I would get while being there. When I arrived at university, i was very unwell, as my mental health took a major turn for the worst during the first few weeks of being there, which everyone around me said was completely normal, but for me i knew it wasn’t as I was feeling really drained and run down which was making me want to sleep all the time.
Due to this, it was decided that I was to get a mental health support worker through funding known as DSA (Disabled Students Allowance), who would be working with me, throughout the duration of my studies. Along with this, I was referred to the university counselling service who would be able to support me also during my studies. While being in higher education, mental health is not the only disability support that students get, for many people, they suffer with many other different conditions that can affect them being at university, but also which they need extra support with to guide them through their studies. This is what many universities do and what DSA is for.
However, from my own experience of being at and applying for university, not many students know about this type of support as it’s rarely talked about unless you have a disability, but even then many students don’t know about it in this respect either.
So, if I was to give some advice to potential care experienced people who would like to go to higher education but are worried about how to go through it while suffering with a disability, I would say the most important thing to do is to get your DSA Application in during the same time as your Student Finance application, every single day that you wait could determine the difference between starting your course with support or needing to wait longer, but the biggest piece of support I can give you is to get in contact with the institution that you applied for and see if you can go and visit them to get further information before starting.
This will make the biggest difference and will make the transition more effective and better as it will reduce the amount of stress and anxiety that you might be having.
By Anonymous Care Experienced Blogger