So we saw Rob today, the former psychiatric nurse who now works for the student counseling service. As planned, I kept quiet unless Rob asked me something. Ben conveyed everything to Rob really well. So where does he go from here?
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. I was expecting a kind of bespoke support package to be drawn up then and there, but it was a bit more vague than that. Mind you, Rob asked all the right questions and it does take time for someone to get their head round Ben's history and current state. We spent around 90 minutes with him and Ben is seeing him again next Monday.
I expect Rob needs to have a think about what is best for Ben and then get in touch with him. He did suggest one or two things, like going to see the GP because Ben will need a diagnosis of some kind to be able to access some of the support services. If he gets a diagnosis, I imagine it will be somewhere on the anxiety spectrum with a bit of depression thrown in. Thankfully Ben continues to eat OK.
After a sandwich lunch in the city centre, I dropped Ben off at his flat, hugged him and told him that it's over to him now to make a go of it. He was a bit teary when I left.
Ben has decided to take up Emily's middle option which (I'm not sure if I explained) is to extend the 4th November fees deadline by a further 2 weeks. If a student quits before 4th November they are not liable for any tuition fees. After that date, they are liable for various percentages, starting with 25%. And 25% of the £9000pa fees is a lot.
However there is a way round this, if the faculty agree - and, in Ben's case, they have. If he doesn't attend any lectures or seminars, or hand in any work, over the following 2 weeks, he will still not be liable for fees if he subsequently decides to quit. If he does continue, the faculty will support him in catching up, and - anyway - some of the lectures are available as podcasts, so Ben can still 'go to lectures', in effect. And the second week is a 'reading week'. anyway, so he wouldn't be missing anything that week.
But it is important that he stays in Sheffield as much as he can so he can put the things into practice that will help him make the correct decision.
This gives him a bit more flexibility and removes some of the pressure.
All I can do is hope that the bits of the plan which Emily promised to chase up work out OK and that Rob comes back with something helpful and structured, and that Ben sees the GP - and that the GP is helpful.
And that, by some miracle, Ben is deluged by new friends this week...
Because, if things continue as they are, I'm not at all sure he will stay...
But I mustn't let it get to me because I am detaching, right? For my own sanity, well-being and health as well as Ben's.