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Student Mental Health

University life can be exciting for students, but can also engender frustration and isolation. Students with mental health problems may find it difficult to ask for help - appropriate services may be lacking and/or they may fear the stigma that can result from disclosure.

For students on professional programmes, the need to prove oneself as ‘fit for practice' can be the source of additional stress. The development of appropriate values and attitudes requires a focus on the self. This can be an emotional journey, especially for students who are also users of services.

In this section, you will find guidelines and publications; some examples of institutional policies; guidance on developing an inclusive curriculum, and on fitness to practice issues; event reports and links.

You can access other websites on student mental health here and our annotated reading list

Please contact us with suggestions for ways of improving this section of the site.

Page last updated on 6 May 2010

*** NEWS ***

ESCALATE funded projects:

Report of Lancaster University Event


1. Key websites and organisations (see under 5 for more)

Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education

Universities UK/Guild HE Working Group for the Promotion of Mental Well-Being in Higher Education site. Includes details of the organisation, links and resources and a section on research.

UMHAN University Mental Health Advisors Network.

UMHAN supports the work of mental health specialists working within HE. It seeks to share good practice and to influence developments across the sector.

Supporting Student Mental Health

Website designed to give guidance and information on promoting and supporting student mental health and well-being. Intended for use in colleges and universities.

Mental Wealth Project

The Mental Wealth Project is promoting and supporting student-led mental health & wellbeing initiatives UK-wide.


2. Guidelines and publications

Mental Wellbeing in the Curriculum 2009

e-bulletin produced by the Higher Education Academy Inclusion programme.

Student Mental Health Advisers Network Policy on Examinations 2009

Written by Philip Scarffe, chair of UMHAN.  Considers what is required under the Disability Discrimination Act and Disability Equality Duty; adjustments to exams; alternatives to exams and areas that the sector needs to consider further.

University Challenge: Towards a wellbeing approach to quality in Higher Education 2008

This discussion paper by the New Economics Forum explores how existing conceptualisations of quality in higher education are narrow, based on limited stakeholder interests and are fuelling an increasingly instrumental approach to higher education with damaging results.

Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion in Higher Education 2007

Prepared by the Universities UK/GuildHE Committee for the Promotion of Mental Well-being in Higher Education

Mental health policies and practices in UK higher education 2006

A report on the results and implications of a survey undertaken by the Universities UK/SCOP Working Group for the Promotion of Mental Well-being in Higher Education

A framework for the development of policies and procedures for the support and guidance of higher education students experiencing mental health difficulties 2006

produced by the UUK/SCOP Working Group for the Promotion of Mental Well-being in Higher Education in response to requests frommany UK Higher Education Institutions for guidance on the development of mentalhealth policies and other relevant procedures.

Developing an inclusive curriculum for students with mental health difficulties 2006

Directed to tutors in geography, earth and environmental sciences but of wider applicability.  Aims to make educators more aware of mental health issues which are present in their classes already, albeit silently, and to encourage simple actions which can remove barriers to learning.

The mental health of students in higher education 2003

Royal College of Psychiatrists report which reviews the nature, prevalence and causes of mental health problems in higher education students; reviews existing services; and presents recommendations for the development of strategic policy and best practice.

Seeking and negotiating academic support in higher education 2003

A qualitative analysis of the experience of students with mental health problems. MA dissertation in the Disability Studies Archive.

Student Mental Health Planning, Guidance and Training Manual 2002

Produced under a HEFCE funded project at Lancaster University

Responding effectively to students' mental health needs 2000

Report of the PeDDs project

Degrees of Disturbance 1999

The impact of increasing levels of psychological distrubance amongst students in higher education. A report from the Association of Heads of University Counselling Services.

Higher Education Institutions and International Students` Mental Health

Guidance produced by the "Stressed out and Struggling" Project of Young Minds.

Information for Higher Education Institutions on Helping Students with Personality Disorder or Personality Difficulties

Discussion paper produced by the "Stressed Out and Struggling" project.

Improving services for learners with mental health difficulties

This page contains Project Reports, Briefing Sheets and other important documents from NIACE

Event Reports 

Towards a mental health promoting university: focus on student well-being 27 March 2007

An internal event organised by mhhe and CEIMH at University of Birmingham

Sharing experiences of promoting mental well-being and supporting students with mental ill-health  

West Midlands Mental Health Educators Network meeting, 25 June 2007

Beautiful Minds? - student mental health and the university

Report of a Heads of University Counselling conference in 2002

Mental Wellbeing in the Curriculum

Powerpoint presentation by Dr Margaret Sills.


3. Examples of student mental health policies and institutional initiatives

University of Bath, University of Birmingham - a student mental health event, University of Bristol, Canterbury Christchurch University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Heriot Watt University, University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, University College London, Nottingham Trent University, University of Oxford, Perth College, Staffordshire University, University of Strathclyde, University of Sussex, Trinity College Dublin, University of the West of England, University of York


4. Teaching approaches 

'Including the Excluded:  Weathering the Storm'

Article by Richard Mottershead (Glyndwr University), 2007


5. Fitness to practice

Analysis of the statutory and regulatory frameworks and cases relating to fitness standards in nursing, social work and teaching 

Disability Rights Commission, 2006

Disclosing Disability: Disabled students and practitioners in social work, nursing and teaching

A Research Study to Inform the Disability Rights Commission's Formal Investigation into Fitness Standards, 2007

Report of a DRC formal investigation on the professional regulation within nursing, teaching and social work and disabled people's access to these professions

Disability Rights Commission, 2007

Mental health and fitness to practice and study - discussion notes

Association of heads of university administration law forum - notes of an event in 2007

Guidance for academic departments on fitness to practice of students with mental health difficulties

Produced by Bradford University


6. Mental wellbeing of staff in Higher Education

Creating success through wellbeing in higher education

This project is focused on how investment in staff wellbeing can help to tackle the complex issue of how to support and engage staff so that they can perform to the best of their abilities.

Dignity at work

A good practice guide for higher education institutions on dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace


7. Organisations and Initiatives


An online resource for students experiencing mental health problems.

Association for University and College Counselling

The AUCC (Association for University and College Counselling) is a division of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

Centre for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Resources for Educators

Designing an Inclusive Curriculum in Higher Education

The DiCHE project aims to gather from the sector and disseminate information about, and provide examples of effective practice of inclusive curriculum design. 

English National Healthy Universities Programme

The English National Healthy Universities Network was formed in 2006, in response to growing demand from HEIs interested in developing and implementing this whole university approach. Convened by the Healthy Settings Development Unit at the University of Central Lancashire, it has a membership of around 60 people.

Healthy Further Education Programme

Working with FE providers to make the health and wellbeing of staff and students an integral part of all aspects of life in FE.

National Research and Development project on Healthy Universities

The aim of this National Research and Development Project, undertaken during 2008, was to scope and report on the potential for a national programme on Healthy Universities that could contribute to health, well-being and sustainable development.

NIACE/LSE/NIMHE project on mental health

NIACE/LSE/NIMHE project on mental health This project aims to improving Services for Learners with Mental Health Difficulties

NUS pages - disabled students, mental health

Mental Health section on the National Association of University Students website.


PAPYRUS is a voluntary UK organisation committed to the prevention of young suicide and the promotion of mental health and emotional wellbeing

Response and Prevention in Student Suicide

RaPSS is a UK research project which will look specifically at student suicide within higher education.

Stressed Out and Struggling

Young Minds project.  Aims to highlight the mental health needs of 16-25 year-olds and campaigns to improve access to and acceptability of mental health services for this age group. Includes some useful information about student mental health.

Students against depression 

Information about depression aimed at students

Student Counselling in UK Universities

Set up by the heads of the various student counselling services in the UK

UMHAN University Mental Health Advisors Network.

UMHAN supports the work of mental health specialists working within HE. It seeks to share good practice and to influence developments across the sector.

University student counselling

A Resource For Those Managing Counselling Services for UK University Students


8. Resources

Self Help resources to recommend to students

MIND Wellbeing podcasts

A range of podcasts to download and listen to which can help with relaxation and wellbeing

MIND Food and Mood

MIND resource page.

Changing Diets, Changing Minds

Report from Sustain: the alliance for better farming and food, to accompany the Mental Health Foundation's Feeding Minds report. A resource for all with an interest in how food and nutrition can affect mental and emotional health.

See also the mhhe page on physical and mental health.

Sleep disorders and mental health

Mental Health Foundation resource page.

The Critical Link between Sleep and Emotional Wellbeing

Better Sleep Council information page.



Money, mental health and university - March 2010 

How to juggle glass - coping with mental illness and university

Blog by Izzi, currently studying for a PhD







student mental health, student support