Supporting students with mental health conditions

Mental health problems are common and many students will experience emotional and psychological difficulties at some point during their studies. Most students, including those with diagnosed mental health difficulties, will cope with reasonable support from family, friends and professional support (if need be).

How you can support students

Support that may be helpful to students with mental health difficulties:

  • be aware that some students may find it difficult to integrate into the class and group work may be difficult
  • be aware that medication can make students drowsy and cause them difficulty in concentrating in classes and private study
  • make course materials available in advance in electronic format will help the student to plan their work
  • be aware that some students may use notetakers, taped lectures or a mentor to assist them in organising study and meeting deadlines

Supporting distressed students

Sometimes distressed students will turn to staff for help or support. If you feel you need, or are requested, to give a student extra assistance it is important to help within the boundaries of your role and what you feel competent to do.

Sometimes you will be made aware of worrying behaviour, by other students for example. Or you may notice a student appears physically unwell, dishevelled, agitated or acting out of character. In this case, follow up with the student if you feel confident to do so – it is important to be honest with the student about the concerns and be prepared to refer to other sources of support. 

What you can do

  • ask open questions
  • don’t be afraid of tears
  • make appropriate referrals
  • listen
  • give the student time to talk
  • be sympathetic and not dismissive

If you offer support yourself, make sure you have sufficient time within the context of your other commitments to do this and it does not conflict with other aspects of your role. 

What you can’t do

  • solve all of a student’s problems
  • take responsibility for their emotional state or actions
  • force the student to get help if they don’t want it
  • act as the student’s counsellor
  • make physical contact as this can be misconstrued

Referring a student

It is strongly encouraged that you pass on the concerns to your Senior Tutor as well as to the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service who can follow up as necessary and support the student.

You can gain further advice on the support available to students from the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service.