When Simon Antink, 41, found himself drawn to the psychology section in his local bookstore, he decided to make a change and begin studying with The Open University. This inspiration would set him on a new career path and provide unique insight into his own mental health challenges.
After dropping out of sixth-form college two decades earlier, Simon thought his relationship with education was over.
“At school, I didn't do very well. Being neurodivergent, I never responded well to the classroom environment, finding it difficult to concentrate and feel engaged. I thought I was finished with education, but then in 2018 I found myself browsing through the psychology section of my favourite second-hand bookstore. A couple of my close friends had recently completed degrees with the OU, and I decided to enrol there and then. It turned out to be the best spontaneous decision I've ever made.”
Having struggled with his own mental health, Simon had always been intrigued by people and their different behaviours. This interest translated well into his chosen course.
“I've always been interested in why individuals think and behave the way they do. Having struggled with mental health, I was drawn towards Psychology with Counselling, as it mixed traditional psychological topics with mental health and social issues, which really interested me.
“I'm currently studying the level three module Counselling and forensic psychology: Investigating crime and therapy. Although I'm only on the second block of the module, I already feel it is going to be my favourite, with some very thought-provoking topics. It also builds heavily on what I learned in my favourite level two module which was Exploring mental health and counselling.”
This interest in behaviour and mental health has motivated Simon to explore career options in research to change the lives of others, but his study journey has also provided him an opportunity to reflect.
“Studying with the OU has given me a way of getting back into education and improving my career prospects,” he says. “Having always struggled in a classroom environment, the more independent and flexible nature of distance learning has really suited me and brought out my strengths. On a personal level, some of the topics I've studied have helped me understand and re-evaluate some of the issues I've faced in my own life.”
“Currently, I'm leaning towards a research-based career. I'm passionate about subjects such as mental health, sexuality, gender identity, and neurodiversity. It would be good to play a part in increasing understanding of these topics and improving peoples' lives.”
“I think that studying with the OU is one of the most flexible and inclusive ways of gaining a qualification. There's a lot of support available from OU student support services, tutors, and fellow students. It really could change your life in amazing ways.”
Find out more about studying Psychology with Counselling at The Open University.