Priya – English BA
Priya is a third year English BA student, we talk to her about being on a society committee and how she's managed her mental health as a student. She explains why asking for help is so important and how it can make all the difference to your university experience.
Tell us a little about the Filmmaking society
"We get together every week and make short films, the first week we share ideas around a prompt and then the next week we go out and shoot it. Different people have different preferences, so some will write the script whereas some may prefer to edit. We're keen for everyone to build a skill set, so if someone isn't confident in editing, there'll be someone happy to sit and do it with them. I want people to be able to say 'I've made a film and I'm really proud of it', and to have the opportunity to build a portfolio should they wish to go into film making.
Recently, I've collaborated with Nottingham Trent University and one of the pubs in Lenton to organise a monthly screening of our films. We have a little brochure, some popcorn and see what we're all up to - it's great!
Last year, I decided that I wanted to be president of this society in order to make sure we have a more diverse group of members. The society has traditionally seen mostly white, male members so I'm really proud, as a woman and person of colour, to have become the president. Initially, I found it quite intimidating to join the group but once I saw other women and other people of colour who were on the committee I thought 'well, that means I'm welcome'."
My aim this year, is to increase the diversity of students we have in the Filmmaking Society, with more international students and more members of the LGBTQ+ community. I want us to look like we're approachable, so that prospective members can see themselves in the society.
What is the Poetry and Spoken Word Society like?
"The Poetry and Spoken word Society is a lovely, small group where we share poems either that we've read and enjoyed or written ourselves. There is no pressure to write, but it is amazing to hear what our members produce.
We've recently been awarded funding which will go towards creating our own anthology. We're hoping that with the new members coming in, we'll be able share our poems and submit the anthology for publication."
A society committee is helpful for welfare concerns because whichever society you join, we are your community. We always say to our members, if you're struggling for any reason, with any aspect of student life, then we will be there for you.
You are a big advocate for mental health, what support is out there for students at Nottingham?
My mental health at university has definitely been up and down but I have a great support team here at UoN. I've worked with Disability Support Services who were fantastic and my personal tutor, Mike Jones, has been just incredible. It's really important to have a good relationship with your personal tutor because they're not only a great source of information, but invaluable in being able to know where to go to get more help. I also registered with Cripps Health Service where I have a mental health nurse and an occupational therapist who were able to tailor their treatment to my specific needs. When I was really poorly, I was referred to the Mental Health Advisory Service which is via referral only, but once you're referred to it, you're not discharged until you leave university.
I chose University of Nottingham because of the mental health services provided. I feel that there is not enough widespread, effective mental health support at many universities.
It took me a long time to recognise that having mental health issues will be ongoing for me and I was really worried that it may disadvantage me as a student. I thought 'why can't I be like everyone else? Why am I finding coursework so difficult? Why am I finding deadlines so hard ? Why can't I manage a social life, university and taking care of myself?' My support network has helped me to find that balance. Without it, I absolutely do not think I would still be at university. I think I would have dropped out actually I am so grateful to the university."
I'm in the process of being diagnosed with Dyslexia and use purple overlays and filters to help me with my studying. It makes me feel different to other English students and people often ask me why I've taken English if I struggle so much with reading and concentration. But, I've always really loved the subject and wanted to find a university that despite all my difficulties, will still support me to do something I'm passionate about. I now have a support plan and may need extensions as I take a little longer to read but the university has never seen me as less than other students.
What was your experience of the Peer Mentoring scheme?
"I absolutely loved having a peer mentor. The faculty match you with a current student who is on your course and has similar interests. So I, along with another first year, was matched with an amazing mentor. She really committed herself to the role and all three of us met weekly. We were able to ask her questions about our experiences and worries, such as 'is it normal to have received this mark?', 'does everyone find referencing difficult?' or 'what did you think of this module?'. Obviously, they can't give you academic advice, but it was a real comfort to share any worries with someone who had already been through it.
I loved having a mentor, and think had I not had one, I would have felt so lost and confused. I really don't think I'd have been as successful as I as in that first year without a mentor."
How do you define success?
"I don't think success is necessarily defined by your academic success. Which may be a strange thing to hear a university student say. I was always a high achiever at school, but at university it's different. We're adults now and we have more responsibilities. So although success can be academic, it doesn't have to be, it's also maintaining great friendships, helping other people and sometimes (especially in the case of people with mental health issues) it can be making your dinner."