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Student life and mental health

Explains how you can look after your mental health as a student, giving practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support.

About student mental health

Studying is likely to bring a number of changes to your life. It can be enjoyable and interesting, but it can also be challenging.

You might face challenges such as:

  • Meeting and working with new people
  • Exams, presentations or deadlines for written work
  • Managing your own finances
  • Coping with homesickness
  • Balancing the demands of studying with other commitments, such as caring responsibilities or work
  • Leaving home, finding new housing and living with new people
  • Maintaining relationships with family and friends, especially if you have moved away from home

When I began university I'd been struggling with my mental health for years but had not got help, and starting university in a new city kick-started my path to diagnosis and recovery.

Coping with new challenges can have an impact on your mental health. But there are lots of things that you can do to make your time as a student easier and more enjoyable.

Some of the things that might make you more likely to experience a mental health problem as a student are:

  • Stress – becoming a student can be a stressful experience. Although stress isn't a mental health problem, it can lead to mental health problems like depression and anxiety. See our pages on managing stress for more information.
  • Lack of support – you might have left home for the first time, or just don't have enough time to see your friends and family. Not having a good support network can make you vulnerable to developing a mental health problem.

You may already be living with an existing mental health problem and be receiving help and support for this. As you start life as a student you may find that your support changes location or you transition from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) to adult services.

It's important to continue your support if needed, become familiar with what this might be and how it will work while you are a student.

Stressed about exams? We have info for young people to help you cope with exam stress at school or college

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Common mental health problems for students

The following mental health problems are the most common among students.

Our A-Z of mental health has more information about mental health problems, as well as a range of other relevant topics.


Anxiety disorders are one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health problems among students.

Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts on your ability to live your life as fully as you want to.

See our pages on anxiety for more information.


Depression is another common mental health problem among students.

Depression is a type of mental health problem that involves having a low mood or losing interest and enjoyment in things. It can cause a range of other changes too, and if affects your everyday living. 

See our pages on depression for more information.

Suicidal feelings

Suicidal feelings can mean having abstract thoughts about ending your life, or feeling that people would be better off without you. Or it can mean thinking about methods of suicide or making clear plans to take your own life.

See our pages on suicidal feelings for more information.

If you feel unable to keep yourself safe, it's a mental health emergency.

Get emergency advice

This information was published in March 2023. We will revise it in 2026.

References and bibliography available on request.

If you want to reproduce this content, see our permissions and licensing page.

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