Mental Health and Disabilities
The college is strongly committed to ensuring that disabled students can have a full and active life in the student community and are not restricted by the college environs or the way that the college is run. If you have any comments/questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact me, Rowan Williams (rpw30) as I can raise these confidentially at a college level.
A message from your Mental Health and Disabilities Officer
Starting university is almost certainly a time of great change. You might be excited, you might be nervous, or both! Change can be something really positive but also a bit confusing.
Here are a few tips to help you protect your mental wellbeing:
Look after yourself: spending time arranging your life in a way that makes sense to you is definitely time well spent.
Know yourself: it can take time to find your own way of living, but don’t feel pressured into doing anything that you’re not comfortable with or not ready for. Just be yourself!
You can always ask: don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how crazy they might sound! Remember that most people will probably have the same questions as you. Your college parents are great people to ask – they’ll probably remember asking all the same questions as you are this time last year!
Stay healthy: make sure you’re eating and sleeping well.
Try to exercise regularly: if you’re a keen sports-person, you’ll certainly find something, and even if you’re not, there are so many opportunities here to do new things! There are some lovely walks to do around the city and in the surrounding countryside as well as some great running routes to suit all abilities!
Cambridge can be a really pressured place at times, but don’t worry: everyone feels like that at some point.
Finding a work-life balance can be tricky, so here’s some ideas:
Don’t work all the time: make sure you take time for leisure, physical activity, social activities and time to relax each day. You might want to have a regular cut-off time for work, or decide to take a day off each week.
Separate: try and have separate spaces and times for ’work’ and ’not work’. You might decide that you’ll do all of your work in the FML, or that you’ll only work between 9am and 7pm each day. Some people like to think of their day as divided into three blocks and think they should work for two of these. This really helps to get your work done as well as enjoy your time off more!
If you are overwhelmed with the workload or have any academic worries don’t hesitate to contact your college parents or Subject Reps – they were in your position a year ago! Also, don’t forget friends and family from home can be great support, as will the friends that you’ll make in here Cambridge!
Disabilities and accessibility at Clare
The UCS is a signatory to the CUSU Disabled Students’ Campaign Accessibility Pledge. You can find a screen-readable version of the pledge here: https://www.disabled.cusu.cam.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Accessibility-Pledge-PDF.pdf
This pledge commits us to considering access needs when structuring and creating events and documents, and we urge other Clare societies to sign up. To assist with this, we have created a Clare Accessibility Assessment for rooms in Clare, which you can find here:
Students with disabilities may often find finance to be an obstacle in obtaining support (for example in paying for diagnostic costs); yet several different sources of financial support are available for students in this position. If you are in this situation, please feel free to get in touch with the UCS Mental Health and Disabilities Officer, Rowan Williams (rpw30), who can guide you through potential sources of financial support.
Disabilities Resource Centre
If you have a disability then the Disabilities Resources Centre have a lot of support on offer (www.disability.admin.cam.ac.uk). There’s an online webform to disclose your requirements so that the DRC can work with college and your department to ensure that your needs will be meet. College has rooms for disabled students in Memorial Court, and the DRC can provide individual academic support tailored to your needs.
Disabled Students’ Campaign
Their introductory 12-page guide on disability and mental health at Cambridge can be viewed below:
Dyslexia and ADHD
If you find yourself struggling with the workload, and reading in particular, then it might be worth being tested for dyslexia and/or ADHD. A lot of people who manage just fine at school arrive in Cambridge and find it harder to keep up because the work here is much more demanding – this can often be a sign of an undiagnosed learning difficulty. The Disabilities Resources Centre (DRC) offers testing for dyslexia and other learning difficulties, if you want to know more please contact them or the UCS Mental Health and Disabilities Officer, Rowan Williams (rpw30).
As aforementioned in the ‘Health’ section (see above) these can be easily booked via the VLE (www.vle.cam.ac.uk/mod/scheduler/view.php?id=2908962) and are taken in room O6, Memorial Court, lasting approximately 45 minutes.
The Welfare Team
The UCS Welfare Team, led by Marina McCready and Oli Euden and comprised of Women’s Officer (Lily Rafalin), Mental Health and Disabilities Officer (Rowan Williams), BME Officer (Angela Liu) and LGBT+ Officer (Frankie Kendal), are a diverse group of people who are all very friendly and always willing to help. Please feel free to contact any of them if you wish to speak to them. See the Meet the Committee for how to contact us!
All Cambridge students are allocated a Tutor. Your Tutor is a friendly member of the college Fellowship. They provide confidential help with problems that may or may not be work-related, and recommend experts you can turn to for professional advice. Your Tutor oversees your welfare and can represent you with certain proceduress with the University (such as academic considerations due to illness and subject changes). You will meet with your Tutor during Fresher’s Week. Depending on your Tutor you may meet briefly once a term to catch up, but please feel free to ask to see your Tutor if ever you have any problems. You can also ask to see any of the other eight undergraduate Tutors if you wish. They are happy to help! Visit www.clare.cam.ac.uk/The-Tutors/ for more details.
The College Dean, Mark Smith, takes part in the running of the College Chapel, and has pastoral oversight for all members of the college – of all faith or none. You can speak to him privately about any matter, perhaps over one of his splendid offerings of tea. Feel free to email him at email@example.com.
The welfare cookie fairy delivers cookies to those in need of cheering up for big or small reasons. Emailing the cookie fairy (ucswelfare [at] srcf [dot] ucam [dot] org) with a friend’s name and place of accommodation will allow them to deliver a free cookie to that friend’s pigeonhole. Please like “Clare College Welfare Cookie Fairy” on Facebook! (https://www.facebook.com/clarecollegecookiefairy/)