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University life involvement bettering my Mental Health

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Wesley speaks on his personal experiences with getting involved with student & university life opportunities and how it’s improved his mental health and socialisation skills.


– Wesley Padfield

I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety back in around 2015-16 and it really restricted my abilities to socialise, meet new people and study. I remained very isolated as a result of this and avoided social situations. Most of which came about from persistently being targeted for bullying throughout school for my appearance and anything I’d ever do. This was during an important time of my life in my GCSEs, where studying and being in exam halls were fearful for me. Especially around people, I hated to be around, but I just tolerated these difficulties nonetheless as I didn’t have the self-confidence to stand my ground. I constantly felt depressed, fatigued and burned out. I was the kind of person to always stay within myself with feelings of sadness, misunderstanding and bad thoughts. It was an incredibly dark place for me and even harder to climb out of as I had no support network to fall back on in the worst of times. However, I do hope my personal experiences of my mental health in this blog and where I am now can inspire you to believe that no matter the struggle-some headspace you’re in, a helping hand is the biggest small step you’ll ever need.

Upon the completion of my GCSEs, I ended up moving on to Sixth Form which ultimately worsened my mental health. This is because it wasn’t the choice for me at all and in the meanwhile, moving houses and moving schools proved extremely difficult for me since it meant a whole new institution, new people, new environment, new area; it triggered my anxiety in more ways than one. I was told I would fail during my A-Level studies too, which stuck with me throughout and brought me down negatively; feeling like all the work I’d ever do would be pointless, so I just didn’t try. I never had the feeling of feeling welcomed or understood through secondary school or Sixth Form in any matter of activity/academics until I reached University where feelings of acceptance started to arise.

My mental health, therefore, started to improve and my social skills began bettering for the first time in many years. I originally started studying Biological Sciences at University from the completion of College. However, I quickly found out that it wasn’t for me in the slightest and upon deciding on taking a gap year, I was gotten in touch with from a couple of members of staff from the course of my interest, Criminal Justice & Criminology. The staff were incredibly understanding of me right from the get-go, even before I’d even properly enrolled with that course! This made me feel reassured & supported which otherwise wasn’t the case beforehand.

2020 – 2021: The year it started going uphill because of my involvement with the University of Hertfordshire community and how it positively impacted my mental health & well-being. I was welcomed with open arms by my fellow coursemates, which gave me a definition that university was a dreamy place with happy-go-lucky students wishing the best for others. This is where I applied to be a Student Representative of my cohort which I was successful in, and I won the award for Student Rep of the Year along with being the Student of the Year: Criminology. I always got involved with University Societies where I could meet different people & explore different interests outside of my own in order to improve my social anxiety. Through experimenting with meeting many people, I gradually started to love University life more and more. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone because no matter what, I still believed that staying the same won’t result in change. Keeping an open mind allowed me to endure every duty with a positive mindset because you can’t live a positive life with a negative mindset.

Skipping to 2021, where I applied to be a School Community Organiser and won an award for SCO of the Month. During my 2nd year of studies, I also won an award for my resilience because of the challenges I’ve had to tackle.  Here I am now, I have 12 different awards under my name because of the initial experience I had with University being so positive and MOST IMPORTANTLY, attending many events, getting involved with all opportunities as and when they come about has grown me into such a better person than I’d ever felt like. I now have a clear career path and a support network behind me of lovely people I’ve met through my University life and to them I thank you and TO YOU, I promise, it’s possible and it gets better <3 “Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do.”

We know that experiencing mental health difficulties at university can feel overwhelming. Explore the support that is available at your university and further. 
Heya! My name is Wesley Padfield, I’m going into my final year of University studying Criminal Justice & Criminology and I’m an Events Assistant for the Hertfordshire Students’ Union! I’m sharing my story because I’d like to be able to reach out far & wide to those that struggle with their mental health and to encourage everyone speaks out when feeling really low <3

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