Libby-Mae Ford and her book

Supporting you to reach your potential

29 January 2023

Starting college is a big step that involves adapting to many new things. But we always put our students first here at Coleg Gwent, looking after your wellbeing and providing all the support you need to thrive at college. From academic support to personal wellbeing, we’re always here for you!

Libby-Mae Ford, a former student, talks us through her experience of studying A Levels in Psychology, Media, and English Literature and Language at our Crosskeys campus. With a goal of becoming a Clinical Psychologist and Author, Libby’s A Levels reflected her passions, and it’s no surprise that she’s gone on to successfully edit and write a book about mental health called Through the Hourglass.

Libby’s Story

After struggling with mental health from a young age, Libby developed a passion for helping others who were struggling too. So, she chose to study Psychology to learn more about how the brain and mind work, alongside Media to explore how mental health is portrayed, and English Language and Literature to fuel her love of writing. Her studies helped her grow in confidence and develop the skills she needed to not only study Psychology at university, but also to write her very own book.

But Libby’s journey through college was bumpy, as her mental health started to decline, and during her studies, she was enrolled onto an intensive course in Dialectical Behavior Therapy by her community mental health team. This had a big impact on college life.

Libby recalled that our tutors were supportive and understanding when she missed lessons to attend her therapy sessions, and they even helped her catch up on what she missed so that she didn’t fall behind. There’s a whole team of people available to support you at Coleg Gwent, and alongside the academic and pastoral support from tutors, Libby also received counselling at our Crosskeys campus. She found it very beneficial in helping her to cope with her mental health struggles and her studies.

The outstanding support at Coleg Gwent helped Libby through her educational journey, and despite her difficulties, she proudly left college with grades BBC in her A Levels.

Libby’s Words of Wisdom

Looking back on her struggles and time at Coleg Gwent, she says:

“The biggest piece of advice I can give is to talk to someone. Don’t struggle alone! Mental illness is such a huge weight to carry around on your own, and sharing that struggle with a friend, family member, teacher or trusted adult can help lift that weight.

Another piece of advice would be to make time for yourself. We’re only human and need time to wind down and relax. So, it’s okay to take a mental health day if you need to. It’s okay to cut your study session short because you’re not feeling great. It’s okay to ask to go to the toilet if things get overwhelming and you need a quick breather. Education is important and being able to learn is such a gift, but please don’t burn yourself out. Look after yourself first and foremost, because there is only one you.”

Through the Hourglass

Since finishing college, Libby has come a long way. Thanks to the help and support she’s received, she’s now reached the point in her recovery where she can draw on her experiences to create works of literature that can help and inspire others struggling with their mental health.

After reaching out on social media to seek fellow writers with stories to share, her book – Through the Hourglass – was born. Taking a look into the lives of 20 people, each with a different story to tell, Libby hopes that her new book will bring comfort to those who are struggling, while also educating, raising awareness and breaking down the stigma around mental health. Through sharing these experiences and giving a voice to those who may not have been heard, Through the Hourglass is the book that Libby wishes she could have read to give her hope when she was struggling too.

Through the Hourglass is now being published by Unbound through a crowdfunding campaign. Discover more here.

At Coleg Gwent, we believe everyone is made for greatness and Libby certainly found hers with us. Your wellbeing is our priority and we offer a range of support services to help you when you need it.

You can find out more about the support available on your campus through our website or on the support tile on CG Connect.