There are many different forms of wellbeing and mental health support available at universities - some obvious and some less so. We've tried to list the most common forms available, but you should do your own research for the universities you are interested in about what's available and what you need to do to access this support.
Good search terms to use are "Wellbeing Support or Mental Health Support or Student Support at University Name". If you use the term "Disability support or Disclosing disability at University Name" this will normally lead you to a page which tells you how to formally share your mental health information with your chosen uni. You can also find links on the Student Space website.
This is open support, available to all, and students do not need to have discussed or shared any information in advance about their mental health/wellbeing to access any of these.
- Support of pastoral care team - may include personal tutor, wellbeing advisor, chaplains, accommodation team
- May include drugs/alcohol advice, sexual health
- Library wellbeing resources (may include online provision)
- Advice from student finance team, careers, Students Union
- Academic support - personal and course tutors, library services, academic skills team
- It’s a good idea to keep your tutors in the loop so that they are aware of your circumstances and can support you in managing your academic work.
- Sports and exercise facilities and wellbeing programmes
- Healthcare - nursing and GP support may be on campus or external
- Informal peer support - may include Student Union groups
This video from Loughborough University gives a good overview of the types of services available.
This video shares the evidence underpinning student success in terms of well-being - what's vitally important is avoiding social isolation.
Mental ill health
This support is available for people in mental distress that may or not be related to a diagnosable mental health condition.
Sign up - likely to include some kind of triaging and assessment for longer term support (drop in or one off appointments may be available without this). This support is delivered by trained mental health practitioners. It can include talking to students who are struggling with suicidal thoughts but do not have an immediate plan to end their life. Some universities will employ staff who specialise in supporting particular conditions e.g. students with eating disorders or autistic students with mental health conditions.
- Counselling services
- The University counselling services offer support on a range of issues including stress, family and/ or relationship difficulties, bereavement and homesickness. Support may be offered in a variety of settings including groups and workshops, 1-2-1 sessions and self-help resources.
- Mental Health Advisers
- Mental Health Advisers support students who are experiencing emotional or psychological distress or personal difficulties.
- Specialist/Wellbeing mentoring
- Mentors can help you with practical strategies, looking at how your mental health impacts on your study.
- Group support such as for procrastination, bereavement
- Wellbeing support e.g. CBT
Students in mental health crisis
Most larger universities have staff who deal with crisis response situations, for example if someone is suicidal or their behaviour indicates that their mental health is deteriorating and not well-managed. Some smaller universities may rely on emergency services.
These are services which respond to immediate crisis for example if a student is suicidal. Staff will respond as appropriate to their role and professional training and capabilities, while liaising/referring to statutory services. This may include contact with community crisis teams, emergency services and any other party involved in a students’ care.
- Mental Health Advisers - many have a duty rota to respond to crisis, but out of hours this might fall to e.g. Security Services. Some universities do not have Mental Health Advisers at all or have a very small team and so are not able to offer this support.
- External services e.g. 999, A&E, Crisis support lines/text services, Social Services, Rape Crisis
Students with a long term/diagnosed Mental Health Condition
To access this support normally requires a student to provide evidence from a medical professional and undertake some form of assessment. This process is proactively communicated to students who have ticked a box about a disability, including Mental Health, on an application form (e.g. UCAS or PG application). If a student has not shared information on application, they are still able to access these services at a later date.
- Mental Health Advisers
- Disability Advisers
- Disability advisers work with students to agree and arrange any disability-related support and adjustments needed for their studies.
- Reasonable adjustments - including exam adjustments such as extra time
- You can find out more about reasonable adjustments on the Disability Rights UK website
- Specialist Mental Health Mentors (funded by Disabled Students' Allowances)
- Specialist study skills equipment, software and support (funded by Disabled Students' Allowances)
Photo by Mark McGregor on Unsplash
What’s the difference between University Mental Health Services and clinical care?
Although universities may employ mental health professionals, they are not working as nurses, social workers, occupational therapists etc but using their skills and knowledge to apply to a mental health in education setting. They also have no powers of intervention.
Any clinical care is always the responsibility of statutory services such as the NHS.
- prescribing medication
- reviewing medication
- Recovery, reablement and rehabilitation support
- 24/7 or ongoing crisis care
- early intervention in psychosis
- hospital admission/inpatient care
- Care planning