Specialist mentors provide highly specialist, specifically tailored, one-to-one support which helps students address the barriers to learning created by a particular impairment. This support is primarily provided for students with mental-health conditions or autism spectrum disorders. The support could address a range of issues, for example;
- coping with anxiety and stressful situations
- how to deal with concentration difficulties
- time management
- goal setting
- prioritising workload
- creating a suitable work-life balance.
Specialist mentoring is not counselling. The role of the mentor is to help students recognise the barriers to learning created by their impairment and support them in developing strategies to address these barriers, particularly at times of transition, e.g. when starting at college/university or when planning to move on from it. For some students, this support will need to be on-going, while for others it might be gradually phased out or only be required at certain points of their course.
Mentors can work with students with a range of mental health difficulties, including:
- eating disorders
- bipolar disorder
- psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia
- obsessive compulsive disorder etc.
Students with chronic fatigue syndrome/M.E. or chronic health conditions which affect their studies can also benefit from mentoring.
Furthermore, the mentors can work with some students with attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder and severe dyspraxia if they are particularly struggling with organisation and staying focused on their work.
Mentoring aims to provide support which facilitates competence in self-management of a mental health difficulty or other chronic condition. Mentors can help students to develop and maintain more realistic study patterns, enhancing their ability to overcome barriers to success, and thereby providing them with a more equal chance of achieving academic and personal goals. Mentors can also help students come to terms with their diagnosis and any medication they have been prescribed in relation to the impact it may have on their studies.