Looking after your mental health at university

3 December 2020

In this article, Chilima, our Mental Health and Wellbeing Manager talks about looking after your mental health while studying at UCL.

looking after MH

Attending university can be an exciting and enjoyable time, however, it is also a period of rapid change for many - including moving away from home, friends, and family. Such changes, alongside the potential stressors of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, coursework and exams can take a toll on our mental health and wellbeing. However, there is support available and below are some steps you can take to look after yourself as a student:

If you have a pre-existing mental health condition:

If you have a diagnosis of a mental health condition prior to attending university, you might want to consider and take action on the following:

  • Transferring your care: If you have been receiving treatment therapy prior to starting university, then talk to your current psychological or mental health provider about referring you to a similar service within London. This should help reduce the amount of time you have to wait to access services, and ensure support is available sooner.
  • Registering with a GP: If you are arriving on campus this September or moving to London in the near future, it is important you register with a local GP as soon as possible to ensure that you have immediate access to ongoing treatment and support - particularly important if you are taking prescription medication for a condition.
  • Contact Student Support & Wellbeing: You can speak with a Student Support and Wellbeing Adviser who can put support in place to empower you during your studies. This might include communicating reasonable adjustments to your department, organising mental health mentoring, or putting special exam arrangements in place to help you perform at your best. Currently our face-to-face appointments aren't operating but we can still support you fully through arranging a telephone or video consultation with one of our advisers.

If you become concerned about your mental health during your studies:

As well as learning academically, university can also be a time where we can learn how to manage and look after our mental health and wellbeing - and one aspect of this is seeking support when needed. If you notice any changes in your feelings, thoughts, or behaviours that cause you to become concerned and distressed while you are at university, then it’s important to speak up and seek support. You can:

  • Speak to your GP: You can speak to your GP at any time for advice and support if you become worried about your mental health. Mental health charity ‘Mind’ have created a useful guide which can help you find the words to speak to your GP about a mental health concern.
  • Contact Student Support & Wellbeing: Our Student Support and Wellbeing Advisers are available to offer non-judgemental, confidential support, advice and guidance throughout your studies. This can be via a telephone or video consultation where you'll get to speak with us about any concerns you might be having. Our advisers can discuss referrals for further support with you including registering with student psychological services.
  • Contact Care First: You can also access out of hours support from counselling service Care First, either online or via the telephone. Care First are available weekdays (5pm-9am) and weekends (available 24 hours) for short-term immediate support.

Chilima Sianyeuka, Mental Health and Wellbeing Manger, UCL Student Support & Wellbeing