The effects that discrimination and harassment can have on mental health are well-documented. CUSU data from 2016 reveals that just 50% of students felt that Cambridge was free from prejudice as a place to live and study. In a 2014 report by CUSU Women’s Campaign, 77% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment. While efforts are made by student campaigners and the University to improve support and reporting procedures, the effects of this prejudice: Cambridge students who fall under protected characteristics (e.g. disabled, women, LGBT+, etc.) consistently reported higher rates of discrimination, and also reported higher incidents of stress and anxiety as a problem in student life.
The more stressors on your mind taking up your time and energy, the harder it can be.
Because discrimination and harassment can have such a negative effect on our mental health – even if we would otherwise be mentally healthy – it’s really important that the tailored support available is more widely known. At Cambridge, there’s quite a lot available. Lots of colleges have dedicated LGBT+, women’s, BME, and disabled students’ officers on their JCR committees – all people who self-define into those groups and who you can go to to chat about these issues. On a University level, CUSU’s autonomous campaigns frequently offer welfare support and advocacy.
If you feel that you are experiencing discrimination or harassment, there are several options for reporting it. The University has recently launched its new harassment and sexual misconduct policy, and with that, new methods for reporting harassment formally to the University, as well as the option of reporting anonymously, purely to add to statistics. Due to the breadth of the options listed on the site, it also functionally serves as an anonymous hate crime reporting service, too. On a student level, the CUSU LGBT+ Campaign run their own contact form for harassment and hate crime, which they optionally follow up with, depending on what you’re comfortable with.
For support in accessing any of these services, as well as help with mediating with members of college including staff and students, the Students’ Unions’ Advice Service offers free, confidential, impartial advice to all students at Cambridge.