Analysis: Self-rustication

first_imgI self-rusticated early last year, following a fairly lengthy period of depression. I had already taken a year out partway through my first year and this was due to be a second, but I decided fairly early on that I did not wish to return to college.I found the tutors at Balliol to be very helpful for the most part, and I thought the college generally did well at balancing the academic and pastoral support I needed. However, I think this may have largely been due to the general excellence of the history tutors, rather than any official policy of Balliol. I can only imagine how hard it would be for someone in my situation faced with less sympathetic or able tutors.I would agree with the quoted student that tutors may not be aware of any problems going on. In my case, it could often be up to me to report a problem which would obviously be a tremendous difficulty for many, and could well lead them to merely be regarded as shirking their work.There are other elements I would criticise about how I was treated. There often seemed to be a degree of punishment, even when college was generally sympathetic – you are dissuaded from returning to college during years out and at one point I was even told that I would be “letting Balliol down” if I didn’t do the requisite work for a class. Clearly a more consistent university-wide policy would prevent at least some of these problems occurring, and hopefully would mark a shift in attitude away from apparently blaming the student for their problems.The amount of support really depends on how much the tutor is willing and able to give. And, in my experience, the onus was very much on me to sort out any extra help I might have needed. Also very little thought seemed to be given to the fact that I might have enormous problems when it came to my prelims, especially as some modules I had not studied for over a year, and had struggled with at the time anyway. That definitely led to more stress and possibilities for mental health relapses.I do not doubt that many tutors and officials want to help students, and indeed do so, but so much more can be done, especially if students actually have some idea of what to expect when they are struggling with mental health problems. At times I had no idea if Tutorial Board was going to send me down or not, and the waiting for the result was truly horrible. Still, I am glad for all the help I did receive and glad that this issue is being discussed more.last_img