How to cope with student life

Explains how having a mental health problem can impact upon being a student, and suggests ways of coping and where to go for support.

Your stories

Coping with depression at university

Helen blogs about the challenges of getting a university degree while struggling with depression.

Posted on 17/02/2015

My university life with anxiety

Kerrie blogs about how her anxiety impacts her university life and her decision to live off campus.

Kerrie Wilkinson
Posted on 23/09/2015

Talking about anxiety at university

Emmie blogs about her experiences of managing relationships and anxiety whilst at university.

Emma Togneri
Posted on 24/09/2014

What if I become unwell?

If you become unwell, there are lots of options you can consider. This page covers:

See our pages on support for students, seeking help for your mental health, and crisis services for more information about getting help for your mental health.

Who can I talk to about my options?

It may be helpful to have a chat with someone impartial about your options, even if just to help get it clear in your own mind about what you think would help.

  • Your academic supervisor or tutor should be able to help you to understand your university's policy for taking time out and to consider how you could take a more flexible approach to your studies.
  • Your Students' Union advice service or welfare office can provide impartial advice.
  • Your university's disability service can support you to think about taking time out or taking a more flexible approach to your studies.

Support on your course

If you do become unwell, it's important for you (or someone you trust) to explain the situation to your academic supervisor or tutor as soon as possible. Even if you have previously explained that you have a mental health problem, they may not be aware that you're feeling worse. The sooner you let them know, the easier it is for them to help you get support with your academic work.

You may be able to:

  • receive special dispensation when your work is marked
  • extend deadlines
  • re-sit exams

Take time out from your course

Each university is different in the way it approaches taking time off from studying. It may be possible to:

  • defer the course for a time
  • repeat a term or year

Your university may need a letter from your doctor to explain how your mental health is affecting your studies.

Take a flexible approach to studying

Your university might be able to make adjustments to how you study. For example, you may be able to:

  • complete your degree part-time
  • have longer deadlines for coursework
  • get more time in exams

It may help to start by thinking about what you would need to make it easier to continue your studies.

Think about alternatives

You might feel that continuing your course isn't right for you, and that's okay. It could be useful to think about some alternatives:

  • trying a different course or location (see our page on choosing your course for things to consider when choosing a course)
  • studying a vocational course or apprenticeship
  • taking a gap year
  • starting work

Not Going To Uni has advice and information about alternatives to university.


This information was published in February 2016. We will revise it in 2019.


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