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Looking After Your Mental Health At University

The transition to university is exciting but with it comes a number of potential challenges.

Leaving friends and family, sharing living space with strangers, and managing personal finances are just a few examples. Because 75% of mental health difficulties start before the age of 24, taking care of your mental wellbeing is integral to making the most of university life. We’ve pulled together this guide to let you know what support mechanisms are in place, should you need to seek help or advice for yourself or a friend while at university.

Advice Centre

Based on the first floor of the Students’ Union, our Advice Centre is a free service offering you the opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have. You’ll receive impartial advice and information from our team of experienced and professional advisers, and if we're not the best people to help you ourselves, we will find someone who can help you.

As a Union, we recognise the importance of looking after your mental wellbeing while you’re studying, so each year we run a mental health awareness campaign. This year’s campaign takes place week commencing Monday 8 October, coinciding with World Mental Health Day on Wednesday 10 October.

What Other Support Is Available?

  • If you already have a diagnosed mental health condition before you start university, register with a GP, and nominate a parent or guardian the university can talk to if necessary. If you are receiving NHS treatment for a pre-existing mental health condition, ask for your notes to be transferred to your new GP as soon as possible.
  • If you develop a mental health problem at university, the first port of call should be your GP, who will be able to refer you to appropriate specialist support. You may also want to talk to a member of your department, such as your personal tutor.
  • Speak to the College’s Mental Health Adviser, Lisa Bond, who will be able to help you by co-ordinating the services and support you need if you have a diagnosed mental health condition. Your mental health condition may entitle you to reasonable adjustments such as extra time in exams and specialist mentoring.
  • Visit the College website to see more of the mental health service available to you.
  • If you’d like support from your peers, you can contact Nightline, a night-time telephone support service staffed by student volunteers. They are open out of hours from 18:00 - 08:00 during term time.
  • Samaritans can be contacted in the UK on 116 123 or by emailing jo@samaritans.org. You can contact the mental health charity Mind by calling 0300 123 3393.

Any Other Advice?

Rosie Tessler from Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity, has compiled a list of things (as published in the Guardian) which may help you to look after yourself at university:

  • You won’t necessarily make friends in the first week. Look out for student societies and activities where you’ll meet like-minded people.
  • If you’re struggling with friendships, or pressures of work, or missing home, speak to your university’s student support services – they will have wellbeing advisers who can help you.
  • If your university has mental health advisers, they will be able to help you with practical things like arranging extensions for coursework.
  • Talk to other people about how you’re feeling, including friends and personal tutors – don’t bottle it all up. Ask your friends, too, how they’re feeling. A culture of openness about mental health is important.
  • You don’t have to spend all your time at university. There’s no harm in going home at weekends if you’re missing your family. 
  • Self-care is important. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating proper meals, rather than snacking or relying on takeaways – and don’t drink too much. 
  • If you have an existing mental health condition, disclose it before you start, so your university can prepare to offer you the support you need. You may also qualify for a disabled student allowance.
  • If you think you have a serious mental health problem, go to your GP as soon as you can – don’t hope it will just go away.