Final year geography student, Callie, discusses her experience of social anxiety and the impact that being more open about mental health can have.
In 2016, I finally admitted I had Social Anxiety and found help at University.
This year I helped to launch a University Campaign and found out I have an interview for my dream job, and yet I still have anxiety. The difference is that now, my anxiety does not control me.
What is social anxiety?
‘Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is a long-lasting and overwhelming fear of social situations. It’s a common problem that usually starts during the teenage years. For some people it gets better as they get older, although for many it doesn’t go away on its own.’ (NHS website) Find out about the symptoms of social anxiety and what can help here
Even though I appear to be extroverted, my desire to be perfect in everything and moving to university eventually led to intense worry and guilt that made my head a dark and cloudy place.
Equally, because I was scared, I hid it from everyone and only a handful of people watched me panic and cry on a frequent basis. But after seeking help and attending counselling and wellbeing sessions, I can very happily say that anxiety no longer controls me, and my lectures aren’t as daunting as they first were. While it can poke its head up at any point, I have realised there that is no reason to shy away from my thoughts and instead I should embrace them.
My involvement with #LetsShare
The launch of the #LetsShare Campaign on National Time to Talk Day was fantastic. The Campaign is all about encouraging us all to share more about mental health so that we can improve our wellbeing and help break down stigma.
I had the chance to speak to so many inspirational people and just being able to share my story with other people around me was amazing. The #LetsShare video of staff and students discussing their mental health that I was a part of was played to the public for the very first time at the Launch. I cried the whole way through the video being played (but I like to think that’s a good sign!) You can watch the video below.
I shared the video with friends on social media. I was overwhelmed with the positive and encouraging responses I got from friends and family…
“Amazing. My role as a school nurse has given me an insight into children’s mental health. I see so many young people with anxiety and young people such as you sharing your experiences and journey is amazing and so helpful to so many.”
“Well done, Callie for being so brave as to bring this out into the open. There are so many people struggling with anxiety and depression, every day. We really DO need to talk about it.”
“This is brilliant, so many people look down on mental health issues and think you can just pull yourself together. Speaking from someone who also comes across as confident, but also suffers with anxiety and depression which can arise at any time: more people need to share their thoughts rather than bottling them up and others need to have more awareness.”
“Wow what a wonderful thing you have done by sharing your story. So inspirational and I hope this helps many other people who might be afraid to tell anyone or seek help.”
Changing the culture around mental health
Mental health conditions are common; they affect 1 in 4 people every year and the student population exceeds this statistic. Yet few people talk about it. We want this to end.
So, if you feel peculiar, upset, emotional or whatever it may be, I urge you to talk (simple right?). Whether that be talking to a friend, a neighbour, housemate or pet, sharing your thoughts is the first step to finding the right help for you.
Three years ago, I isolated myself from the outside world, but after finally sharing what was happening and accessing professional support, my anxiety no longer controls me.
I cannot deny that the feedback for this Campaign has been absolutely fantastic and incredibly humbling to hear and see. Following my involvement in the Campaign, I have spoken to over 10 of my friends who wanted advice and feel they now are comfortable to discuss mental health outright and with those around them.
Let’s make the change, no matter what it takes and no longer accept the stigma.
What’s on Your Mind? Let’s Share more about mental health
The #LetsShare Campaign is all about encouraging us all to share more about mental health so that we can improve our wellbeing and help break down stigma.
Watch our #LetsShare video, featuring Cardiff University students and staff, who have been brave enough to speak about their own personal experiences of mental health, in support of the Campaign.
Students have also shared their experiences in a series of blogs:
Previous student, Chris, talks about his experience with social anxiety
Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service
The Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service can offer support to anybody experiencing any sort of difficulty.
One-to-one therapy appointments are available to request via an Online Self-Referral Form, which can be found on the Our AppointmentsPage of the Student Intranet.
A daily Wellbeing Walk-In Service (15:00-15:45: Monday–Friday and Wednesday mornings: 9:30-10:15 at the Student Support Centre at 50 Park Place) is also available.
Wellbeing Workshops offer information, support and self-help resources on a variety of mental health difficulties, and several therapeutic Courses and Groups are also available, offering a safe and confidential space to explore issues and develop new skills over the course of several weeks.
Callie, Final Year Geography Student.
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.