Spotlight on Mental Health in Education

Support at any stage

It’s ok to not be ok. You’ve probably heard this phrase a lot. Maybe from friends, family, teachers and your epilepsy team. It’s completely natural to be anxious when you have epilepsy. Add growing up, being a teenager and assignments to the mix and it can feel overwhelming, especially if stress is a trigger for your seizures. Social stigma and bullying naturally affect your wellbeing. Exam or assessment pressure can feel immense. Sometimes it might feel like a lot rides on your results if you need certain grades for your next step. But anxiety can be nipped in the bud early doors. So where can you get help when you’re not feeling ok? More places than you probably expect – at every stage of your education.

Let’s start with school

‘School’ can come with a lots of pressures and worries for anyone, but add in the struggles that epilepsy can bring and it’s no wonder that more and more of you are saying that your mental health has been affected. Exams and assessments can make your palms sweat just thinking about them. The prep, the coursework, the revision. Concentrating on a paper for a limited amount of time. And then you have the added anxiety of what happens if you have a seizure? You know your body better than anyone. And you know how pressure affects you. If it’s a concern, talk to your school as quickly as possible because help could be at hand. You may have heard of these people at school, but do you know that they can also help when it comes to struggles with your mental health?

  • Your Pastoral Team,
  •  Inclusion Leader
  •  or the SENCo

at your school are there to support you and make social, emotional and mental health provisions. A quick chat with them about your epilepsy in general, as well as how you’re feeling emotionally and mentally could help manage your worries and anxiety around school. It’s worth to note that you may qualify for exam or asssessment access arrangements. The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) confirm to schools which pupils are granted flexibility or special consideration with their exams. If you’re deemed at a disadvantage in taking an exam under typical exam conditions, alternative arrangements may be possible for your school to arrange, to your advantage, that reduce your anxiety and your triggers.

But it’s not just exams that you can get help with. If other thoughts are weighing you down and feel too heavy to carry alone, there are people and organisations that you can talk to here.

We all need help sometimes. And asking for it isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s sign of strength. Your wellbeing matters at every stage of your life, as well as your education. And the small steps you take now will help you reap the rewards later in your career or higher education. Did you know, every school, college and university has a duty to support young people with epilepsy? Make sure you talk to your school/college about an up to date Individual Healthcare Plan (IHP). This describes your seizures, outlines your meds and how your epilepsy is managed. It also details the impact this has on your learning and general wellbeing so you can be offered the best inclusion support possible.

High anxiety for higher education?

After a really tough time for Uni students this year, going to college and university is set to be exciting again from the new term – yay! The chance to be independent, study the subjects you love, create a new life and meet likeminded people in a new city or one you already know well.  And a whole new social life. What’s not to love? If that negative voice of anxiety is whispering in your ear, it’s time to kick it to the curb with the help of Student Minds. Every university has a team that can help you with your mental health, as well as epilepsy. If you’re a student now that is struggling in the light of the pandemic and the changes made to your university life, then find out here who you can reach out to for support. And what’s more, if your anxiety is centered around exams, universities have greater freedom and flexibility to manage their own exam arrangements to support students individually, and create an exam approach tailored to your needs.

Which Uni?

Calling all prospective students! Choosing what to study is one dilemma. Choosing where to do it is another. But your decision may be easier to make than you think. When you’ve chosen your course, have a look at our list of epilepsy friendly universities to help reduce any anxiety so you can get excited about your life-changing chapter ahead. If your chosen Uni isn’t on this list, make a point to speak to their Student Welfare Team about your epilepsy to find out how they can support you. Support and student life go hand in hand. From financial, residential, academic, emotional and social, – help will always be within reaching distance with Student Space, the expert student information site.

When you’re not ok, you’re not alone. Chat through The Hub to find support when you need it most, 24-7, and make the contacts to create your individual student support network for your next steps ahead.

We're asking young people with epilepsy to tell us about their experiences of mental wellbeing and living with epilepsy.