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To Sam

Starting college but mentally ill

Hey Sam,

I’ve just started at my new college and already I’m relapsing with my eating disorder and depression.

Because I was so ill I missed out three years of education on and off and really messed up my GCSE’s. I got into college and wanted a fresh start but I don’t know how to cope with being in college but still being sick?? I’m very depressed and not sure what to do because I can’t fall behind on my work or I’ll mess up my A-Levels too!

How do you cope with A-Levels whilst being mentally ill? I feel like it’s impossible. Please help!!

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Starting college can be both exciting and stressful, but when you have a mental health problem it can add extra pressure on you. Everyone has to look out for their mental health, but for people who are going through things like depression and eating problems it can make day-to-day life difficult. Whether someone is struggling with physical or mental health there is support available to help lessen the impact it might have on you.

Good mental health in education is an essential part of how most schools, colleges and universities provide a supportive and safe place for you to learn. Some are better than others but there should always be someone you can talk to about your mental health and help you ensure it does not affect your time at college.

The first thing to do would be to talk to your tutor and explain the situation. The more your college knows about the problem, the better chance they have of being able to help. It can be difficult to open up about something that you may have kept private up to now, but there’s is no shame in having a mental health problem - it's something that can affect anyone at any time.

Once you’ve explained the situation to your college they should explain what they can do to help. This might be offering you some talking therapy with a counsellor or helping you to look at ways of coping with workloads. There may be changes and adjustments they can make which help you to do what you're there for - to learn and get your A-levels.

Remember that if things become too difficult, your health comes first. It’s okay to leave college and try again another time or do something else. A-levels are not the only option you have – there are all kinds of qualifications you can get, some of which might suit your learning style better. The National Careers Service and Prince’s Trust have good information about what you can do.

Young Minds have an interesting blog which you might find useful - it tells the story of Irum and how she coped with mental health problems after GCSE's. And our message boards and counsellors are always there for you to talk about your story and get support.

I hope this has helped, thanks for sharing.


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