PhD candidate Alice Evans first came to Chelsea College of Arts in 2008 to study BA Fine Art. Apart from embarking on an exciting three year course, Alice was also juggling her mental health diagnosis of schizophrenia. During her time as a student, Alice accessed different departments of the UAL student services, giving her the support she needed to make the most of her course. Currently studying for her PhD at UAL and an advocate for mental health awareness, in this post, Alice describes how she felt supported by Chelsea, her tutors and fellow students.
When you arrived at Chelsea, knowing that you needed support, how did you reach out for it? Was it easy to access?
I spoke to my personal tutor and made contact with student services who were able to put me in touch with the support I needed. It took me a while to figure this out but when I got support it was really helpful. I also registered with a GP so that I could have a doctor local to my studies which helped too.
How open did you find the tutors and technicians in supporting you through art school?
The tutors and technicians were incredible and very supportive. They often went out of the way to support me, at times I wasn’t even aware of some of the support provided at the times I was unwell.
How supportive were your fellow students during your degree? Were you aware of other students who had a disability or a mental health issue?
My fellow students were really supportive and understanding. I learned through them that many of us experience fluctuations in our mental health just through being human beings. I think of it as being part of life now and we all have different challenges in life but it’s how we deal with them and the support we get and also importantly too are able to give to others as friends that makes all the difference.
Do you have any advice for students thinking of applying for an Arts course but worried to because of a disability or mental health issue?
Don’t worry – there is support available and it is easy to access. Make contact early in the course with student services if you think you need some extra support with studies.
Student Services at University of the Arts London (UAL) includes the Student Advice Service, the Counselling, Health Advice and Chaplaincy service and the Disability Service. Advice and support is available to all students and at all stages of their education. As Head of Student Advice and Funding Paul Rossi explains:
“The University’s support services are second to none, staffed by dedicated professionals who will help where they can and be clear about what to do next if they think you need to speak to someone else. The ability to see people either at Chelsea or at other sites, and access information from the web, means that you are never far away from staff who can help you.”
Find out more about Student Services at UAL
Find out more about Alice Evans’ art practice on her website
You can read her in-depth interview ‘How schizophrenia changed the whole course of my life’ on the BBC website
Find out more about the Chelsea BA Fine Art course.