A former student who battles with psychotic depression has talked about the support he was given while attending UTC Heathrow.
Jacob Day, 19, was diagnosed with psychotic depression in 2020, while he was in Year 12. Psychotic depression involves visual and auditory hallucinations. Sadly Jacob had to be sectioned for a period of time, but says the school staff and his friends supported him on his mental health journey.
“It was embarrassing, having outbursts, but they [the school] made me feel so accepted. So included, like I was a regular student. And that’s all I really wanted, you know, just to be a regular student, a regular teenager and just kind of go along with my life. And that’s how they made me feel.
“I can’t thank them enough how they went out of their way to help me. For example, they had a room I could go to in case I was distressed, and they would always check up and talk to me. The school kept my family informed about how I was doing in class, and when I was sectioned, one teacher, Ian, would reach out to my mum every week to make sure I was alright. That didn’t just help me, it helped my family as well.
“They really helped integrate me back into school too and made me feel like a regular kid again because at the time I felt quite distanced from everyone, especially after being sectioned where you’re by yourself quite a lot of the time. When I needed to I could go to a room on my own just to sit down and chill out, read my book, or go on the computer. One teacher let me watch the World Cup!”
Jacob’s illness didn’t hold him back academically – he proudly left school with a Level 3 in Cyber Security and Security Administration and A Level Computer Science.
After starting university to study Ethical Hacking and Cybersecurity, he realised it wasn’t for him, so transferred to Coventry University where he now studies International Business.
But that’s not all… Jacob has also founded his own marketing company Guppy Fish Limited, and is also work for an anti-knife crime organisation in Coventry, Fridays, a cause he is passionate about.
“You see knife crime everywhere, it’s part of gang culture. I work alongside a former gang member – so he knows what he’s talking about.
“I don’t want people to be out on the streets feeling so negative, feeling like they have to hide. Especially women and girls; they are very scared on the streets late at night and that’s just not acceptable.
“In Coventry there’s a massive pub culture. It’s not okay that if you’re out late at night and turn the wrong corner, that could be the end of everything. So we work with people to educate them away from carrying knives and help them get suitable jobs – lots of these people don’t want desk jobs for example, it has to be something they are suited to.
“It’s made me grateful for my education to be honest, because my time spent at UTC was hands-on practical and gave me career ambition. I want the people I work with to get this, to know that it’s up to them in the job world – they can make it if they want to.”
Jacob’s advice to anyone considering at UTC education is ‘go for it’.
“You get your hands-on practical experience, work with industry partners who are always in contact with you, you’ve got the placements in industry, and then desk learning experience as well, so there’s not an aspect uncovered.
“And the support you get there is amazing. If you have a disability, or additional needs, you’re looked after but you won’t feel different from the other students. Just a regular kid.”