What is a Specialist Mental Health Mentor?

Specialist Mentors work to help students achieve their full potential at university while also mitigating the impact their mental health condition might have on them.  

Mentors can work with students with a range of mental health conditions, and will help them improve their self-management competences, as well as helping them come to terms with their diagnosis. They can help explore the underlying causes that prevent effective study, such as perfectionism, fear of failure and anxiety. 

“I don't think I would be able to continue with my course without the help of my mentor. The opportunity to discuss and reflect on the problems that my disability causes in relation to my studies has been invaluable. I may have got more out of learning through reflection about my capabilities and overcoming my limitations from my mentoring than I have from my course in fact.” (BSc student, 2014)

Specialist Mental Health Mentors also provide support with timetabling, goal-setting, workload prioritisation, and managing expectations about appropriate levels of study. They will work with the student on short and long term targets, providing them with the tools and the mindset to achieve personal academic goals. 

Recent research has shown that Specialist Mental Health Mentoring  positively impacts on three key areas for individuals: functioning, performance, and experience.

Research link

You can find out more about the parameters of the role in the Student Loans Company's Disabled Students' Allowances guidance. Specialist Mentors have specific professional qualifications in the field of Mental Health.

Where can I find them?

The Specialist Mentor role is normally funded by Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs). You can learn more about DSAs on the Government's website. Some Universities may fund specialist mentoring as an interim measure, while students are going through the DSAs application process, or for students who are not eligible for this funding. The Mental Health Adviser for any University should be able to provide detail on what is offered at their particular institution.

The DSAs process will include recommendations for a particular individual mentor or agency, and will also provide information about the number of hours funded and how to contact the mentor.

Many students with long term mental health conditions are eligible for support though DSAs, so please don't be put off by the terminology!

Become a Specialist MH Mentor

All Mentors are also subject to the current DSAs quality assurance framework, as recognised by the Department of Education.

The mandatory qualifications for mentoring were set by the Department of Education after consultation within the sector, and you can download the full document below. We can not provide further advice about how to obtain the qualifications listed. The UMHAN accreditation route is now closed and so we can only accept members with the listed qualifications. 

  • Addiction Professionals - Registration Body and Network - National Counsellor Accreditation Certificate (NCAC)
  • Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) - Full membership.
  • Association of Christians in Counselling and Linked Professions
    • Accredited Counsellor
    • Registered Counsellor
  • The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) - Full Accredited membership.
  • The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
    • Registered Member (MBACP)
    • Accredited Member (MBACP - Accred)
    • Individual and Student Membership of BACP does not confer eligibility to support students funded by Disabled Students’ Allowance.
  • British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) - Registrant. Practitioners become registrants through membership of one of BPCs member institutions.
  • British Psychological Society (BPS) – Registered with the BPS Wider Psychological Workforce Register in the following:
    • Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWP)
    • Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHP)
    • Clinical Associates in Applied Psychology (CAAP) Scotland
    • Clinical Associates in Psychology (CAP)
    • BPS Chartered Member (CPsychol)
    • BPS Graduate member (GMBPsS)

* For BPS Chartered and Graduate members, the following is required, which will be checked at DfE audit:

a. A postgraduate qualification in mental health (an undergraduate degree in mental health is not acceptable. The qualification must be a postgraduate degree in mental health); and

b. 30 hours of mental health relevant continuous professional development (CPD)annually; and

c. engagement in supervision

  • Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA)
    • Accredited (Other UK Professional body) Counsellor/Psychotherapist Member of
      COSCA membership.
    • This category of membership requires current accreditation with another recognised UK
      professional body for counselling and psychotherapy.
  • General Medical Council (GMC) - Psychiatry – Full Registration
  • Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
    • Arts Therapist
    • Occupational Therapist
    • Practitioner Psychologist
  • International Society of Psychotherapy and Counselling (ISPC)
    • Full Accredited
    • Fellow
  • Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) - Accredited membership
  • National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society (NCPS)
  • Accredited Registrant (MNCPS Acc).
  • Accredited Professional Registrant (PNCPS Prof Acc).
  • Senior Accredited Registrant status (SNCPS Snr Acc)
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
    • Mental Health Nurse
    • Community Mental Health Nurse
    • Psychiatric Nurse
  • Social Work England (SWE) - Social Worker
  • Social Care Wales (SCW) - Social Worker
  • Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) - Social Worker
  • UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) - Full clinical membership
There is no quick training route to become a mentor as it is a role which requires specialist knowledge and experience.

Become a Member

Specialist Mentors are encouraged to join the University Mental Health Advisers Network so that they may share best practice with other specialist support staff at various institutions and participate in peer support and development. Becoming part of the UMHAN network allows individual members to have their say in the wider development of services and become involved in creating guidance and policies for institutions and mental health services. 

What is a Specialist Mental Health Mentor?
Mandatory Qualifications document July 2023
University Mental Health Advisers Network (UMHAN). c/o The Moseley Exchange, 149-153 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8JP Tel: 07510 734544 Registered charity number: 1155038. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website.
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