We are delighted to be able to share a 3-part diary from recent APC candidate Alice Graham, who gives a personal insight into the process of APC and how to get through it!
In this third diary – Alice shares her thoughts on the pressures of the APC journey and the best strategies and support to cope
APC and mental health
There is so much information available on the internet about the technical aspects of the APC. However, when it comes to mental health, very little is there, and we need to start the conversation. There is no denying that the APC process is a difficult but rewarding path. It can impact your mental and physical health.
To go through the process with your mental health intact, this article is specifically dedicated to giving you tips on looking after your mental health during the process.
Make sure you have a strong support system to encourage you and cheer you up, especially on the bad days. You will need support from peers who are going through the same process, as well as outsiders like family who don’t know much about the process.
Your peers will be great study buddies who know the process can sympathise with the pressures. Your family and friends may not have a clue what you are doing, but their encouragement will be invaluable.
Build self-care into your preparation routine including taking study breaks to prevent physical exhaustion. A common trap you may fall into is working consecutive days without rest. Done over a long period, this will lead to a deterioration of your mental state and get you close to burnout. Remember that most APC candidates are in full-time work and some with home responsibilities so self-care will be difficult to put in but worth it in the long run.
You may face difficulties in your mental health during your APC that warrants the need to seek help formally or informally. There are plenty of ways you can receive help to get you back on track such as.
- RICS Lion Heart
- Employee assistance programme if your company has one
- NHS mental health self-referral
- Speak to your colleagues and line manager
In the lead-up to my internal prequalification interview, I was putting in a lot of hours to revise and prepare. Between September & November 2020 I was doing APC stuff every day including weekends. By the time I passed my prequalification I was extremely exhausted, feeling unwell, and struggling to sleep. I took a break over Christmas but returned to the same pace.
As I prepared for my submission deadline towards March 2021 and subsequently my interview, my pace further increased. This time the physical exhaustion returned and was accompanied by the deterioration of my emotional health. This included self-doubt and generally wanting to give up.
I was fortunate to have a fantastic support system at my company Faithful+Gould and at home from my husband, family, and friends. They cheered me on and helped me to keep going.
I also took the measures (following some strong encouragement) to have deliberate breaks to do something other than studying.
Towards the end, I was able to reach out for help to get better and overcome some of the mental health challenges that were part of my APC journey.
The best part about passing and finishing my APC was getting to enjoy the free time and not taking it for granted.
The ultimate message from this article is this:
Work hard to pass your APC, but not at the expense of your health. You will come out the other side in wellness if you look after your body mind and soul.
About the author
Alice Graham is a chartered quantity surveyor at Faithful+Gould, with a particular interest in the application of digital tools and innovation in the construction industry. Her current role involves delivering cost and commercial management services for public and private sector projects and programmes. She is also a STEM Ambassadors and does various activities to promote careers in the construction industry to young people.