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University mental health

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

Many university students suffer from mental health issues. These can be far-ranging such as anxiety, depression, or different eating disorders (like bulimia and anorexia). University life may cause these problems to surface for the first time or it may exacerbate existing problems. Either way, it is important to understand that you are not alone and every university has plenty of resources for people suffering with their mental health.

How do I find mental health services at university?

There are many ways students can access mental health services at university. There are counseling services available that are free, and give you access to qualified professionals. You may see these advertised around campus, on the university website or further information can be accessed via your student union, your lecturers, or your student reps.

If you are struggling with the workload at your university, then first speak to your lecturer. They will hopefully work with you to try and create short-term allowances that can help. If more longer-term support is needed, they may suggest you talk with a support service or your doctor to suggest some reasonable alterations, such as extra time in exams, or extended deadlines on coursework.

Do I need a doctor at university?

It is advised to register with a local doctor while at university, especially if you have moved geographically far away from home. This is because your doctor from home may not be aware of local services available to you and may not be able to meet your needs in the same way.

Your doctor will also be able to provide you information on free counseling services, or if necessary, refer you to the local mental health team if you are having more severe problems.  The information discussed with your doctor is always confidential and will not be shared with anyone else unless there is any immediate and severe risk to yourself or other individuals.

Are there any other external resources available?

Organizations such as the American Psychological Association can provide additional online information and resources.

What symptoms should I look out for?

If you find you are sad or feeling down most days of the week and you are finding it difficult to concentrate, enjoy the things you usually do, or unable to complete your usual activities then these are signs you may need to seek help.

Other more concerning signs of deteriorating mental health include:

  • Excessive fears or worries
  • Feeling hopeless or guilty
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Changes to your sleep or eating habits
  • Finding it difficult to cope with daily stress or problems
  • Withdrawing from friends or work
  • Mood fluctuations including violence, anger and irritability
  • Problems with drugs or alcohol
  • Thoughts or acts of self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

If you or anyone you know is having active thoughts of self-harm or suicide then it is advised to go to your local emergency department urgently and speak to the medical team.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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