Durham Counselling and Mental Health Service

Claudia Chmura

In my mind are all the tides– Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

This quote is from one of the books I’m writing my dissertation on (Piranesi by Susanna Clarke) its been bouncing around in my head while writing this blog and I thought it was fitting given the topic.

Don’t hesitate to seek help

University can be stressful – don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t if that’s what you’re feeling. You’re probably away from home for the first time, you’re balancing a workload more reliant on independent study than you’ve ever had before, and if you’ve made it to Durham, you probably don’t just want to get through it, you want to do well. Then, on top of that, regular old life can be quite a headache all on its own. Many of us hesitate to seek out help when we need it. Maybe it’s because we’re embarrassed, maybe we don’t know where to look, or we don’t know if it’ll make a difference, because it’s never that bad. Right? Maybe you’re fine, maybe you have other factors that play into it, but you clicked on this article for a reason so hear me out. 

Support is out there

Sometimes, even if you’re lucky enough to have a support network, it feels wrong burdening your close friends with your problems, so there’s definitely some relief to be found in being able to meet with someone whose job it is to help you feel better, or even just to hear you out. The Durham Counselling and Mental Health Services introduction video says that they see 10% of students every year. But I, with absolutely no statistical evidence to back me up on this point, think that a whole lot more students would benefit from using the service. 

Counselling and Mental Health Service

The person I spoke with in the Counselling and Mental Health Service was lovely, and it was truly helpful to have another perspective on what I was dealing with. It validated my feelings in a way I didn’t know I needed and helped me to centre myself at a time when I felt like I was spinning out. It is important to note that the service is counselling, not therapy. If you’ve never tried either before, there is a difference; it’s a short-term treatment that tends not to offer diagnoses or assessments – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful. It probably won’t help you untangle the scrambled threads of your deepest, darkest fears, but it might just give you some breathing space while you figure out what to do next. Whether that be accessing one of the University’s other support services or getting a referral to an external partner. 

It’s quick, it’s free, and it’s right here

As with most places, including the NHS, the Counselling and Mental Health Service at Durham only has a limited number of in-person sessions so you might have to do it online. It is also time-limited. However, it is quick. It is free. And it’s right there. Literally at your fingertips, you just have to open your phone, submit a short form, and you’ll get an email with a confirmation and the opportunity to set a meeting date with the most appropriate team within days. (I want to say within hours, but I did mine on a weekend and think I got a response Monday morning as they work office hours.) Compared to the NHS waiting list it feels almost immediate, and of course, unlike private therapy, it’s free.

Other services

If you don’t need counselling, there is a team of Psychological Wellbeing Advisers who give wellbeing advice and self-help information. The Service also offers group sessions for bereaved students, workshops on subjects like perfectionism, and access to external services like Nilaari, which supports the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community through talking therapies and training.  

Discover more

You can find out more about the Counselling and Mental Health Service, and the other mental wellbeing support available, via the Student Support Hub.

Claudia Chmura

Hi, I’m Claudia and I am an English student at St Chad’s College, this will be my second year as a content creator for Durham University. I’m excited to see what final year studying English year has in store for me and just trying to muddle through somehow! 

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