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Answered anonymously , Jan 20th 2015, 16:07 Verified Guru

I think 'eligibility' is the wrong word here - even if an assessment concludes you are not in a fit state to go abroad, if you are thoroughly determined to go, you should be able to. The experience you have there could be just the sort of thing you need to overcome the issues you are having.

That said, I think a free assessment of this kind could be invaluable to students preparing to head out on their year abroad as it could uncover something they are unaware of, and it important for a student to know of the possible problems they could face whilst abroad!

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Becky Wyde Becky Wyde, Jan 20th 2015, 16:19

I agree with Anonymous- it shouldn't affect your eligibility. But a mental health assessment would be a good way of assessing who might need extra support and help when abroad, rather than forbidding people to go entirely.

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Kathy Giddins Kathy Giddins, Jan 20th 2015, 17:00

 I was still using the wellbeing services at my University for depression and anxiety issues before I went on my year abroad and my counsellor briefly mentioned that help and support is available. eg. someone can go with you. I am now however finding it difficult to get support from the wellbeing services at my uni because I let things get worse before I sought help. An assessment would perhaps let those students with mental health issues who need more help realise that they have to make plans to ensure they will receive support whilst abroad but anonimity would of course be protected if requested.

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Answered anonymously , Jan 20th 2015, 17:02

This would be an excellent idea. I talked to doctors/ councillors about my year abroad concerns before I left to go abroad, but this hasn't been followed up at all while I've been away. I have been suffering a lot from anxiety and have had to reach out to my tutor by email, which I don't think is the most effective of ways to deal with things at a long distance; and so far hasn't solved any of my issues.

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Frances @ Queer Abroad Frances @ Queer Abroad, Jan 20th 2015, 17:21

If it could potentially stop you going, I think people would just lie to pass it -- I certainly would! It would defs help to have some kind of pre-departure counselling or meetings though!

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Hannah Hannah, Jan 20th 2015, 18:17

I think an assessment would be great however I agree with others in that it shouldn't determine your eligibility! 

If I had taken the test and it had decided whether or not I would be allowed to go then I know that without a doubt I wouldn't be on my YA now.

I really wanted to take a year out and then go abroad after making sure my mental health was in a better state but I felt that everyone would have looked down on me - this test might have made me feel less anxious about suggesting to someone that the year abroad at this time in my life might not have been such a brilliant idea...

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Answered anonymously , Jan 20th 2015, 18:38

Suffering from anxiety, depression or any other kinds of mental illness can make you feel alone enough, never mind singling you out even more stating that you are not able to cope with a year abroad. Part of the struggle with mental health is learning to cope and overcoming challenges that may seem at first rather impossible.

Personally after suffering for years with anxiety and depression, the challenge that the year abroad has presented me, has been in many ways a real turning point. I have been pushed so far out my comfort zone, and I'm not ever going to lie and say that it's all been easy, but it's made me realise a lot more about myself and what I can really achieve if I put my mind to it. Which doesn't mean that all of my problems have gone away, it just means that I now have a slightly altered perspective on learning to cope with them.

In terms of help from university before leaving, I quite agree with some points above. We were told how to deal with all the admin and formalities of registering and such when arriving in the country, but not much was said about what to do about the doctors, how to get prescriptions, counselling systems etc. It was almost the unspoken rule that nothing would be said about the things that could go wrong, so not to put us off or scare us away. Yet such information really could have helped.

After a couple of years at university, the tutors get to know their students, and should already be aware of who might be needing some extra direction on their year abroad, so I do think that more should be done to ensure that students know what to do and who to turn to in a crisis.

All the best to fellow and future year abroaders! :)

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Katie Bizley Katie Bizley, Jan 20th 2015, 20:50 Verified Guru

This is a very interesting point. I actually found myself to suffer more on return to the UK in the form of reverse culture shock. I agree that universities need to be open about the challenges and ups and downs, it is life after all, perhaps amplified in the context of living in another country, so it's part of the learning process but I do not agree at all that we should have to go through it on our own. I'm not sure of who to talk to about things or worrying about being 'proud' as Emily wrote. I too have felt this and can empathise.

Therefore, what do people think about universities 'monitoring', used in a very loose sense, students' mental health during and after the year abroad? It can be branded as something else, perhaps 'wellbeing' if there is, unfortunately, too big a stigma attached to 'mental health' for students to participate in such monitoring/check ups. One of my worries was not knowing who to give feedback to. And whilst in Mexico, where the feedback was seen as negative criticism, I began to fear feeding back about my negative experiences for the possible consequences it might bring, i.e. not securing a job at the university on return. 

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