‘School’, for the past year has been a world away from what we know. Along with the challenges of lockdown, the pressure to learn at home, the uncertainty around exams and increased isolation felt from pupils, we know this year has been hard. 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 this year, more than ever before. 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. Although ‘traditional exams’ aren’t happening this year, it’s worth to note that you may still 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.