Molly Clutton in her graduation gown in front of Christmas tree
Molly Clutton

A Warrington woman whose battle with long Covid left her unable to speak for nine months has graduated with a Merit for her MSc from Edge Hill University.

When Molly Clutton, 24, developed a new persistent cough in June 2020, she followed Government guidance and booked a PCR test. To her surprise, her test returned a negative result.

Over the next few weeks, Molly’s cough continued to develop and would eventually cause so much damage to her vocal cords that she was left unable to speak.

She said: “I was experiencing all of the common symptoms associated with long Covid. The doctors were convinced that I had it but couldn’t confirm a diagnosis because I hadn’t tested positive.

“Instead, I was diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection and placed on a course of antibiotics and several inhalers. But I was still back and forth to the hospital for months and it got to the point where I had to be admitted because I couldn’t breathe. I never had asthma or any difficulty breathing before this and now I’m on my third inhaler. It’s had such a devastating impact on my life.”

Shortly after her symptoms developed, Molly started her Master’s degree in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Wellbeing at Edge Hill to pursue her dream of becoming a child counsellor.

But she would face another setback soon after embarking on her studies, when she lost her job as a therapist because she was unable to speak to her clients.

“As a therapist I have to talk to my clients, and I was no longer about to do that. At first, I was furloughed, followed by a period of sickness absence, but I still felt pressured to go back to work. It was a very difficult time.”

In February 2021, doctors finally diagnosed Molly with a chronic condition called fibromyalgia, an incurable condition that causes pain all over the body, as well as a post-viral related allergy.

Molly’s family has also been severely affected by Covid. She explained: “In December last year, my family contracted coronavirus and, unfortunately, my uncle suffered a cardiac arrest which has left him with complex health issues. Then in February my older brother, who is my world, tested positive and developed pneumonia. He was hospitalised for a week but, thankfully, has since recovered.”

Despite these challenges, Molly remained committed to her studies and has graduated with Merit from Edge Hill.

She added: “Even though Covid has left me with complex health issues, I am so grateful to still be here and be able to continue on my chosen career path. The support I have received from family, friends and Edge Hill has been phenomenal.”

With her Master’s degree, Molly hopes to make a difference to the lives of children and young people who are struggling with their mental health.

“If we want a positive impact on people’s mental health, we must start young. There are so many issues facing the world that the youngest in our society are going to inherit and can have a major impact on their mental health. We may not be able to solve their problems, but we can empower them with the knowledge and skills to express how they are feeling.”

Since her diagnosis, Molly is learning to live with her condition and has undergone vocal training to regain her voice. This helped Molly to secure a job with the charity Young People’s Advisory Service (YPAS). YPAS provides mental health and emotional well-being services to more than 150,000 of Liverpool’s children, young people, and families. It offers a wide range of support, well-being, and therapeutic services.

Offering her advice to future students, Molly said: “Use all of the fantastic facilities and resources available to you on campus and make yourself known to your lecturers and student advice services.

“If you’re struggling in any way, make sure to have open discussions, speak out and get help. Imagine yourself, as I did, walking across the lecture theatre and being awarded your degree. That was a massive push for me to be successful.”

If you want to support those experiencing mental health issues, our choice of Master’s degrees enable you to specialise in child mental health and wellbeing or mental health awareness in community and professional sport. You can also train as a mental health nurse.

To find out more about the range of postgraduate degrees available at Edge Hill please take a look at our website.