Student mental health: appendix 3

Socially isolated students

This is an appendix to the Student mental health policy.

Most tutors will recognise the concept of the socially isolated student: a student who appears not to interact very much with the peer group or have many friends. Such a pattern of social behaviour is not necessarily a problem. Some individuals are content not to have an active social life and to have only one or two friends. For others, the inability to interact socially can be a source of anxiety and is something they would like to change. For those who seek greater social interaction, but do not seem to be able to achieve it, coming to university can be traumatic. They leave behind the friends they had and the environment with which they had been comfortable. Additionally, they see, at university, others having a rich and active social life for which they yearn.

The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness of the socially isolated student and to propose ways that might assist such students to improve their social integration. It is, of course, important to remember that some individuals are perfectly content with minimal social interaction and so there must be no hint of coercion.

Set out below are various mechanisms that may help the socially isolated student. Induction. During induction it is important that students are given the time to visit Fresher's Fayre. Social gatherings between staff and students and between students from different years of the course will help Fresher’s feel more at ease. 'Buddy Schemes' in which a second or third year student arranges to meet up with a fresher and ease their induction into UCL has been very successful.

  • UCL Student Psychological Services
  • Nightline 
  • volunteering at UCL
  • mentoring schemes
  • students in UCL residences should be encouraged to take a full part in social activities within the residences rather than going home at weekends
  • encourage active participation in clubs and societies
  • social or special interest organisations outside UCL
  • excessive alcohol consumption and drug abuse may be mechanisms to which socially isolated students resort