What is counselling?

Counselling provides a safe and confidential space for you to talk about your concerns. A counsellor will not give you their opinions or advice, and they can’t prescribe medication. However, they will help you to explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and to find your own solutions to help you cope with your problems. Counselling at Essex is short-term, and can help you engage in your studies and in university life.

Our student counselling service is provided by HealthHero (previously known as Validium), our external partner organisation. All counsellors work to recognised standards within the profession and are registered or accredited with professional bodies. This includes upholding confidentiality as required by the counselling profession.

Who can access counselling

Counselling is open to registered students, including those who are intermitting from their studies on medical grounds.

How to access counselling

If you feel that counselling might be beneficial for you, you can complete a counselling form via My Essex. If you'd like to talk about counselling or have any questions before deciding whether you'd like to complete a form, you can book a wellbeing appointment to discuss this with a wellbeing assessor in confidence or speak with your named adviser if you have one. You also have the option of contacting HealthHero directly on 0800 970 5020. You will need to provide HealthHero with your PRID so that they know that you are an Essex student.

What happens next?

Once you have submitted your counselling form, it will be reviewed by the Counselling Manager to see whether counselling is the best service for you at the time or whether you would benefit from a different service. Sometimes, the Counselling Manager will ask to meet with students to understand more about what they have written on their counselling form. This is to ensure that you receive the right level of support.

If counselling is the right service for you, your form will be sent to HealthHero, after which you will receive an email asking you to contact HealthHero for an initial conversation. A counsellor will speak with you, generally over the phone, to understand more about what you would like to get from counselling. Sometimes, based on this conversation, they might suggest that you see your GP or receive other support prior to accessing counselling. On occasion, where the Counselling Manager has met with you first, they may update HealthHero directly. Students who are unable to make initial contact with HealthHero over the phone for any reason will be offered alternative arrangements.

If you go on to receive counselling with HealthHero, you will be offered a date for your first session that falls within 15 working days of your initial conversation. Remember that you can contact HealthHero as soon as you receive an email from SWIS to say that your counselling form has been sent to them. The sooner you contact HealthHero, the sooner you can start your sessions.

We offer a service that is tailored to individual student need. You will initially have one or two exploratory sessions with your counsellor which will help you and the counsellor decide together how many further sessions you need, while keeping in mind that the service offers short-term counselling. All students are offered the choice of in-person, audio or video sessions.

In-person sessions will be held on your campus at the following locations:

  • Greenwood House, Colchester
  • Gateway Building, Southend
  • Hatfields, Loughton

For audio and video sessions, you will need to make sure that you are in a private space and are unlikely to be interrupted.

While you're in counselling

While you're in counselling, you can still access other support. Here is a list of services open to students:

  • Wellbeing Appointments: A general service for students seeking advice and support for personal, welfare, emotional or mental health issues. The appointments are 30 minutes long and can be either in-person, by telephone or by Zoom. Appointments are available Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.
  • SilverCloud: An online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) resource offering a range of programmes on mental health, wellbeing, and long-term conditions. Students have the option of requesting a supporter from the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity (SWIS) team who can guide and encourage them through the programmes. To learn more about SilverCloud, watch this video.
  • Togetherall is a safe, online peer-to-peer mental health community that empowers individuals to anonymously seek and provide support 24/7. To sign up, go to togetherall.com and use your student email address to register as a member of a university or college.
  • Student Wellbeing Support Line: A 24-hour phone line for University of Essex students, provided by HealthHero. The number is 0800 970 5020 (outside UK: +44 141 271 7168) and is open every day, including at weekends and bank holidays.

To get the most from counselling, it is important that you commit to attending your sessions regularly and provide your counsellor with at least one working day's notice if you are unable to attend. If you have an in-person session booked, and you are unable to attend, your counsellor may be able to transfer this to an online session at the same time. Students who cancel without adequate notice more than once or do not attend without contacting their counsellor or HealthHero first, may have their sessions terminated for a period of time. This is to ensure that other students can access the service in a timely manner.

After you complete counselling

You might find that once you complete your sessions, you continue to reflect on what you have learnt and introduce changes to your life. After some time has passed, if you feel that you would like further sessions, feel free to complete another form. The counselling service opens to second requests at the end of March each year.

Providing feedback

We would like our students to have a positive and meaningful experience so it is important for us to hear from you. If you feel that counselling has been beneficial, or if you have suggestions to strengthen the service, please complete our SWIS Student Survey. You will also have the chance to win a £5 SU Voucher. If you'd like to email us directly to provide feedback or raise any concerns, you can contact the Counselling Manager on studentcounselling@essex.ac.uk or email HealthHero on feedback.eap@healthhero.com

Long-term counselling

If you are thinking of long-term counselling, or would like to access specialist services, you might like to contact local, external organisations in Colchester, Southend or Loughton. Here are some suggestions for you to explore. It is important that you let them know that you are seeking support through their low fee services.

This list is for information only. We cannot endorse specific services so it is important that you get as much information as you need before you choose where to access counselling.


  • Break Even provides counselling for those with gambling-related problems.
  • CARA (Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse) offers support to those who have experienced sexual violence and abuse.
  • Life-Force offers low cost counselling with advanced trainees.
  • The Outhouse offers a low-cost service that is open to those within the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Stockwell Centre offers a low-fee scheme that is delivered by affiliate counsellors.
  • Turner Centre: has a low fee scheme provided by mature student therapists.
  • Colchester Institute: The service is provided by trainee counsellors.
  • Therapy for You can offer free online and face-to-face counselling.



  • Hope Centre Counselling Loughton (HCCL) offers counselling with trainees. No one is turned away for their inability to pay so you can discuss any concerns with them.
  • CCIWBS offers donation-based counselling for pre-bereavement, bereavement and other types of loss.
  • Worth Unlimited (Spark): Counselling is available for young people up to the age of 23.


Have you used counselling or any of our other services in Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity? Complete our SWIS Student Survey for your chance to win a £5 SU Voucher 

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Need help?

If you need any further help and advice, please contact or visit the Student Services Hub who will be happy to assist you.