Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Starting college

Hi I'm starting college in September and I'm so nervous! I have anxiety and depression and panic dissorder and the teachers at school knew and they learnt how to deal with me and they had meetings with my parents and it was quite open and I felt comfortable. But now I have college... I feel like I have to start all over again! I self harm and have been for 4 years and the scars are still there and are deep and I know they won't go away anytime soon, and the course I'm doing is performing arts which means that I'll have to do dance and where short sleeved tops and wear costumes to look like everyone else in the performances! I don't know if I could tell the staff there about everything because I don't want to be judged again and I barely know them and I don't want pity and I just don't know if i can go through it all again, like if I had my first panic attack there people would find out and then treat me differently and worry about me and I would be an even bigger burden! It's all too much at the moment and I don't cope well under stress and I don't want them to see my breakdown and find personal stuff out about my mental health and my medical history! It makes my heart race just thinking about it!
Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your letter.

I’m glad you felt able to write about your worries for starting college in September. It sounds like you might be feeling quite anxious about it.

You’ve told me that in school people were aware of your mental health issues. It sounds like they learned how to support you, and it's great to hear that they would meet with your parents and help you feel comfortable.

I can hear it feels difficult to go through that again but it seems like that could be the way to ensure you can have support at college when you need it. It could be a good idea to think about how the supportive environment in school was developed and whether it might be possible to try and do the same at college. A part of that could be making a plan of what you can do to look after yourself if you do have a panic attack. Maybe you could talk to your parents about finding ways to let college know what your needs might be.

Most schools and colleges will have experience with supporting young people with different mental health issues and it’s important to talk to them about it so they can understand what you need from them. It could be worth trying to do that before the new term starts so you can feel more prepared. If you are not sure who to talk to, student services could be a good place to start.

It sounds like you feel worried about wearing costumes for your performing arts course which means people could see your self-harm scars. It could be important to remember that you have a choice about what you tell people and when you tell them. If people were to make comments about your scars, then you can choose how to react to that. I’m wondering how you usually cope when people see your scars. Perhaps that’s something to think about as a strategy to use in college. You might find it useful to have a look at our Anxiety page which has some coping tips you could try.

If you would like to talk more about your worries around starting college or anything else, feel free to talk to one of the ChildLine counsellors who are always there to listen. You can phone them free on 0800 1111, log in for a 1-2-1 chat or send them an email.

Take care,


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