Wellbeing and mental health support at university
Universities are well aware of the realities of student life: while there is a lot of fun to be had, there can be some hardships. For those who are considering going to university but are worried about being away from home, not having a support network close by or are even just worried about keeping on top of the work load, universities offer a large number of services to support you both academically and emotionally. Below is a list of these services. It is also advisable to do some research yourself to see what is on offer at the specific universities you are interested in.
Universities usually offer a free counselling service that is available to everyone, whether you have a diagnosed condition, something specific has happened, or you just want to talk to someone. Some simply require you to fill out an online form and book a session, while others will ask you to go through two or three different stages to ensure the right service is offered to you.
Specialised drop-in clinics for eating disorders, self-harming, anxiety and many other conditions are usually offered by the university or by the health clinic associated with the university.
A lot of universities have student-run nightlines. These are phone lines that simply offer a listening ear rather than advice or opinions. These can be popular as it doesn’t require you to take time out of your day and just getting something off your chest can often be a huge relief.
For those who don’t necessarily want to talk to someone but need help in areas such as stress management, insomnia, financial stress, time management or even just remembering to look after their general health, many universities hold groups and workshops with tips and advice on how to look after yourself and improve your headspace.
Your personal tutor is usually a lecturer from your department; they will often be your first point of contact for any problem, be it academic, personal or health-related. At some unis this will be the same person throughout your whole degree; at others it can change as often as termly. Your tutor will have an allocated time each week where you can drop in for a chat, or you can arrange a specific time to see them. Most universities will demand that you have at least one meeting with your personal tutor per term.
You are likely to live in halls accommodation during your first year of university. Many halls have a tutor system, where young PhD or masters students live in the halls and act as mentors to the first year students in their block. You can go to them for anything from getting something off your chest, to a noise complaint or even just to have a cup of tea (or a glass of wine).
Chaplaincies offer faith-based support within a university. With chaplains and religious advisors from different faiths, and connections with the various different university faith societies, a wide range of religions are catered for. People go to chaplaincies for counsel and advice but also just to meet like-minded people. Whether you want to talk about your faith, discuss a problem with someone of the same faith or just explore faith, the chaplaincy is open to anyone.
Your university should help you sign up to the local GP practice when you arrive. Going to your GP can be a great first port of call to help you pinpoint what you’re feeling and help to decide what your next step should be.
If you don’t want to go through the university to find help or support, the internet has an endless number of websites and apps available. Apps such as Headspace (which are often free if you have a student number) aim to use mindfulness and meditation in order to reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleeping patterns and everyday relationships. Universities often have a library with leaflets and guides on self-help available.