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Student Morwenna Jones Opens Up About Mental Health at Cambridge

8 OCT 2014
Career Path : Education News

Morwenna Jones was just like so many other straight-A students: high achieving, perfectionist and a well-rounded academic. Getting into Cambridge, an Ivy League University was a dream come true for her, but ended up damaging her confidence.

The acceptance rate at Cambridge is 21%, and out of the 16,500 candidates who apply, there is only one spot for every five people. This is a difficult place to earn, thus doing so puts pressure on students to maintain grades, and not “mess it up”. Even the pre-application years can load incredible stress onto a high school student, and for Morwenna, this morphed into an eating disorder, which had effects carrying on into university.

“No longer was I thought “talented” or “gifted” because I could work for eight hours or read an 800-page novel in a day. At Cambridge everyone I knew could do that. I was no longer special.”  

Morwenna dropped out after her second year at Cambridge having developed depression and severe bulimia, which she says is unfortunately not uncommon. A survey by the Cambridge school newspaper revealed that 21% of students had been diagnosed with depression, and 28% of girls had experienced an eating disorder.

Morwenna’s story shines a light on issues with mental health services available to students. Every university has mental health services and students are using them, but this is made less useful by the fact that they are understaffed and there are sometimes wait lists. To counteract the rise of mental health issues in high-ranking universities, headteachers like Judith Carlisle has tried to begin with combating the ideal of “unhealthy perfectionism”, and teaching students that perfection does not necessarily produce the best academic. Morwenna is proud to say she ended up returning to Cambridge after getting healthy, and has rekindled a joy in learning.

Source: The Guardian