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Freshers' week and mental health: top tips for students and staff

Gedminte Mikulenaite

Gedminte Mikulenaite

Former Policy Researcher
Universities UK
It is that time of year when we think of freshers and the start of university term. During this exciting period of change, it is important to consider student and staff mental health.

While many students will be able to enjoy all that the university experience has to offer – meeting new people from all corners of the world, joining new clubs and societies and immersing yourself in a whole new subject area – for some, a university environment can be challenging.

Universities have been leading on work to improve mental health. This has involved prioritising mental health and taking a whole university approach​, making significant investments in student support services, and signing up for the 'Time to Change' pledge, which aims to end mental health discrimination.   

With this in mind, here are some tips for students and staff.

Tips for students

There are several steps you can take to make sure you are prepared for the academic year:

  • Register with your GP. It's important to register with your local GP as soon as possible so that, if you need professional support at university, you can access this quickly.
  • Find out about the support services available. University support services include access to mental health advisors, counsellors, disability advisors and others. Freshers' week is a good time to familiarise yourself with the support on offer.
  • Seek out your Student Union and other societies. Find out about the range of other support available across the university. Helpful services can range from Students Union societies, sports club, access to gyms and exercise classes, finance support, talent development, and much more.
  • Be aware of your own mental health and wellbeing. The NHS recommends five steps to wellbeing​, including connecting with people, keeping active, learning new skills, giving to others and being mindful. ​
  • Remember that transitioning from one part of your life to another can be difficult. Social media posts using #DearFresherMe offer some helpful advice. Don't hesitate to make use of the support services if you need help. ​

Tips for staff

Freshers' week is a busy time of year and staff and services are under immense pressure.

There are several useful resources online which can support your work and provide more information on mental health.

  • Charlie Waller Memorial Trust: Free e-learning for university staff and a few podcasts.
  • Mental Health Foundation: A-Z on mental health. Publications on tips and advice on how to look after your own mental health.
  • Mind: Publications for adults with information about various conditions, treatment options, and practical issues.
  • NHS: Information on student mental health.
  • Papyrus: Tips for students and information on talking about suicide.
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists: Information on how to get help and about the various mental health conditions.
  • Student Minds: Information of different mental health difficulties and tips.
  • The Mix: A range of services and information for young adults, including mental health, finance, housing and others.
  • Transitions: A resource for students who are starting university.
  • Universities UK: #Stepchange framework, which encourages university leaders in adopting a long term, strategic, whole-organisation and whole-population approach on mental health.
  • Youth access: A directory, which gives information about local voluntary sector services for 15-25 year olds that provide range of provision under one roof, for example counselling, drug advice, and others.

Universities transform lives through education: challenging ways of thinking, providing new opportunities, and connecting people from around the world. We are committed to ensuring that students have a positive experience at university and that they know where to turn for effective and timely support if it's needed.​

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