Friday, 9 December 2016

Disclosing a mental health difficulty: your rights

Students with mental health difficulties can disclose this on their UCAS application to ensure they can access the support they are entitled to. Do you know what your rights are? And what if you don’t want to disclose? UMHAN and Student Minds answer these questions in this short blog.

What are my rights?

You have a right to equal treatment. Many people worry that if they disclose a mental health difficulty, it will affect whether they are accepted. However, Equality Act legislation makes it illegal for staff to discriminate against you. The decision of whether you are offered a place on a course must be purely down to academic suitability. Some courses such as nursing, teaching, or social work additionally require a fitness-to-practice assessment.

You have a right for your information to be protected. Another worry is that if you disclose, your mental health difficulty will become common knowledge. However, your information will only be shared with people who need to know at the time you are disclosing. Staff will adhere to the Data Protection Act, ensuring your information is processed appropriately and sensitively.

You have a right to support. If you have a mental health difficulty, providing support is your course provider’s responsibility. Seeking support isn’t asking for special treatment – it’s asking your course provider to ensure you have access to the same opportunities as other students. Disclosing is, for many, an empowering experience.

What if I don’t disclose?
Choosing whether to disclose is a personal decision. If you change your mind, it’s never too late to disclose – go to your university support services and they will help you access the support you are entitled to.

A common reason for not disclosing is that you don’t feel you would currently benefit from support. This may be true, but note that disclosure has a preventative element. Disclosure makes the process of seeking support smoother, should you need later it.

Find out more

In 2015, UMHAN launched the #IChoseToDisclose campaign. By producing blogs answering questions surrounding disclosure, they aim to empower students to make an informed decision.

Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity. For further support with mental health difficulties at university, visit their website.

We hope this blog helps you come to a decision regarding disclosure. If you have further questions about disclosing on your application form, get in touch with UCAS.

This blog was written by student mental health charities UMHAN and Student Minds.

The benefits of disclosing a mental health difficulty

Students with mental health difficulties can disclose this on their UCAS application to ensure they can access the support they are entitled to. What are the benefits of disclosure? UMHAN and Student Minds answer these questions in this short blog.

When submitting your UCAS application, you have the opportunity to disclose a mental health difficulty. In the section marked ‘Disability/Special Needs’, you can select the option ‘mental health condition’.

You can then enter any particular needs related to your mental health difficulty. This information is passed on to the course providers you have applied to as part of your application, so they can begin to think about what support to provide for you.

So, should you disclose? What will happen if you do? And what are the benefits?

If you disclose, your course provider is legally required to make reasonable adjustments which take account of your needs.

On starting your course, you will have the opportunity to talk to your course provider’s student support services. You may be eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) – this can provide a wide range of support, from specialist equipment to a mentor, depending on what is agreed to suit your needs. If you do not receive DSA, your course provider may provide alternative support.

Here, a student talks about the support she received after she disclosed:

‘I went to see the Mental Health Adviser at my university, who gave me support and a feeling of reassurance that I wouldn't be facing my depressive episode alone. She advised me to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance, something I wouldn't have thought to do otherwise. DSA funded me to have a mental health mentor who I see weekly. He knows me so well that he can spot any signs I'm struggling before even I can. Both have also advocated for me in my journey through the NHS mental health system. The holistic nature of the support given by mental health advisers and mentors has literally been a lifeline for me and I'm incredibly grateful.’

We hope this blog helps you come to a decision regarding disclosure. If you have further questions about disclosing on your application form, get in touch with UCAS.

This blog was written by student mental health charities UMHAN and Student Minds.

Disclosing a mental health difficulty on your UCAS application

Students with mental health difficulties can disclose this on their UCAS application to ensure they can access the support they’re entitled to. UMHAN and Student Minds share some advice on disclosing this information.

Disclosing a mental health difficulty via UCAS
Applying to university or college can be daunting, with many things to consider before applying for that perfect course for you. The process comes with its own set of questions if you experience a mental health difficulty. In this blog, we’ll address questions about disclosure – telling your university about a mental health difficulty.

Who can disclose?
The purpose of disclosure is to ensure students with mental health difficulties can access the support they are entitled to at university or college. For a mental health difficulty to come under the protection of the Equality Act:
there must be a substantial, adverse impairment to daily activities
the difficulty should be long term (has lasted, or may last, 12 months)
the cumulative effects of a mental health difficulty may in combination be ‘substantial’
difficulties that are episodic are covered if they are likely to reoccur
a person who has recovered from a mental health difficulty is covered if the difficulty is likely to reoccur
a person does not need to show that the adverse effects impact on any particular capacity (e.g. memory or concentration)

If you feel you meet these criteria, you may be eligible for additional support, and it is worth considering disclosure. If you are not sure whether you meet the above criteria, disclosing will help you find out more.

Should I disclose?
Disclosure is a personal choice. There is no right or wrong answer – it’s a case of ensuring your needs are met. We hope that, with the information we provide, you can make an informed decision.

Satisfaction rates among students who disclose are high – the Equality Challenge Unit found that 78% who disclosed said the support they received was ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

We hope this helps you come to a decision regarding disclosure of a mental health difficulty. If you have further questions about disclosing on your application form, get in touch with UCAS.

This blog was written by student mental health charities UMHAN and Student Minds.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Share Your Story: Shane Baker

Name: Shane Baker

What course are you studying/have you studied?
BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work, at the University of Huddersfield
Postgraduate Diploma in Education, at University Campus Barnsley
MA in Education and Youth Work Studies, at the University of Huddersfield

What, or who, inspired you to train to become a teacher?
Several factors influenced me to take up teaching as a profession. My grandad, particularly, guided me to higher education and ultimately into the profession. I was always keen to share what I had learnt with others. I remember my primary school teacher being significant in my childhood, and hoping that one day I could have the same impact on others. With the skills, knowledge, and experience I already obtained at the time, I felt there was definitely an area within education that I could bring these skills to, as the teaching profession is so broad.

What was the application process like?
The application process was very straightforward. It was exactly the same as applying through UCAS for undergraduate courses. I think it is important for those who are contemplating completing initial teacher training (ITT) after their initial undergraduate degree, that you know you can access student finance to fund the course. ITT courses are one of a few courses that are exempt from second funding.

What was your course like?
The course I studied was very informative and really gave me the opportunity to put theory into practice. I felt that as soon as I had learnt something, I was able to put it into practice, having undertaken a placement throughout my time on the course. This, ultimately, put me in the position to gain and take up a full-time, permanent role in a further education college on completion.

Did you move away from home to study, or did you commute?
I lived at home and commuted. I actually received a bursary from the government, as I focused on developing as a SEND specialist teacher. This bursary allowed me to purchase my first home, reducing my worries about my finances, and concentrate on developing my skills as a newly qualified teacher.

What age group(s) and/or subject do you currently teach, and where?
I have worked within FE colleges as a lecturer, personal tutor, and assessor, teaching students aged 14 to 70. I have taught health and social care, foundation learning, Jobcentre Plus programmes, and childcare.

I recently achieved Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) through The Society for Education and Training (SET), and have moved to an outstanding ‘all-through’ SEND school/college as a post-16 class teacher. I think it is important to know that, just because you qualify to teach in the lifelong learning sector, it does not stop you from working within local-authority-maintained schools if you gain QTLS. If you apply and achieve QTLS on completion of your initial teacher training programme, it has parity with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), meaning you can apply for positions across the profession.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about being a teacher? What is the worst?
The best thing about being a teacher is seeing students developing, progressing, and meeting their individual targets. It’s the little comments like ‘I get that’, ‘I never knew’, or ‘Thank you’ that remind you that you are making a positive impact. You cannot come into teaching and not expect there to be a large workload and paperwork. You have to be realistic and recognise that teaching in class is just one of the duties of being a professionally qualified teacher. If you do not know the full expectations, I highly recommend you read/research the professional expectations of teachers.

Do you have any regrets about your course/route choice? Did anything surprise you?
I still have a very keen interest in youth work but, for me, there were no opportunities to progress, with the significant cuts to the profession. It has allowed me to continue working with children and young people to make a positive difference to their onset development. I wish I trained earlier as a teacher! The course I undertook was first-class and has allowed me to gain first-class results.

Is there anything you wish you’d known before you applied?
I think I would have liked better careers advice and clearer guidance. Because of my previous experience, I was suggested to focus on becoming a PSHE/citizenship teacher. I think I have found my niche as a SEND teacher. I think it is important to gain some relevant work experience, to ensure you are embarking on the right journey – whether that is primary, secondary, or lifelong learning teaching.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about training to become a teacher, what would it be?
Be prepared for hard work. It will not be a stroll in the park but you will gain a lot of satisfaction from seeing your students develop, and getting to the end of your first academic year – looking back and recognising all the hard work you have put in, which has led to the success. You will learn that what works for one class doesn’t always work for another. You will learn to think on your feet, adapt, and react to the forever changing environment that is teaching.

I love teaching because… 
I love teaching because one day is never the same, and witnessing students achieving what they set out to achieve.

15 January deadline: Your questions answered!

As the 15 January application deadline approaches, here are some of your questions we’re answering on social media at the moment.

Q. Why can’t I log into my application?
A. If you can’t log into your application, first of all make sure you’re trying to log into Apply and not Track by mistake. If you’ve forgotten your username or password, try our ‘Forgotten login?’ link to retrieve or reset your details. If you’re still having trouble then give us a call so one of our advisers can help.

Q. How do I add my qualifications?
A. Before you can add any qualifications you need to add the schools or colleges where you’ve taken them. This video explains everything you need to do.

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Q. How should I write my personal statement?
A. The personal statement may appear daunting at first but try not to panic, we’ve got lots of advice to help! Start by checking out the pointers on our website, then take a few moments to watch our personal statement video.

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For further inspiration, check out this great video from someone who reads personal statements for a uni.

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We also have an interactive personal statement tool to help you think about what you should include in your personal statement, and how to structure it.

Q. How does the reference section work?
A. There are three ways to request a reference, and the one you’ll use will depend on how you’re applying. Watch our video for a step-by-step guide to what you’ve got to do.
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Q. Why can’t I pay and send my application?
A. You can only pay for and send your application when every section of your application is marked with a red tick. If you’re applying through a school or college, they’ll be able to complete a reference and send us your application after you’ve paid for your application. If you’re applying independently, then you can pay for and send us your application once your referee has finished your reference.

Q. What time is the deadline on 15 January?
A. Applications for the majority of courses should arrive at UCAS by 18:00 (UK time) on 15 January (check your chosen course details in our search tool for the correct deadline). This is to ensure that it gets equal consideration by the unis and colleges you're applying to.

If you’ve got any other questions about your application check out our info on www.ucas.com or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.