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.
Being around so many other students creates a great opportunity to meet like-minded people. If you're finding it hard to meet new people, remember many other students will feel the same way. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
- Clubs or societies can be a great way to get to know people and create a work-life balance. See what's on offer when you enrol or check in with your Students' Union.
- Course forums or email groups can keep you connected if you're studying online. Getting to know people online can also make it easier if the course has events like study weekends where you will all meet in person.
- Volunteering can help you meet people who share an interest with you. There are lots of different ways to get involved:
- Your college or university’s Students' Union may be able to help you to find volunteering opportunities
- You could get involved in volunteering or student fundraising for Mind
- Do IT can help match you with voluntary roles that fit your interests
- Student Minds runs volunteering programmes you might be interested in
- The Royal Voluntary Service also has specific opportunities for students, such as volunteering in the NHS
Meeting new people can seem more of a challenge if you feel less like those around you.
- If you have experienced time in care before studying, you may feel like you have less in common with your classmates. As well as meeting people in the ways described above, it can be useful to connect with groups outside of your place of study. These can help strengthen your support network. For example, the Rees Foundation runs peer network events for care-leavers at all stages of their educational, academic and work lives.
- If you identify as LGBTQIA+ (meaning you may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex or asexual) Student Minds has information for LGBTQ+ students. There's advice on starting conversations and what to do if you experience discrimination.
If you've moved away from home, it's likely that at some point you will have to organise your own housing. You may not always feel you have a lot of choice. Especially during the first year when university halls are the main option for most students. But you could think about if you want to live:
- With people who you can talk to about your mental health
- With a smaller number of people, perhaps in a smaller house or block of halls
- Closer to campus or somewhere with better transport links
- Near shops and amenities such as cafes and sports centres to make it easier to be sociable
- Somewhere quiet with more privacy
Renting a house or flat for the first time is a big deal, but there is plenty of advice and support out there. Check whether your university or college offers advice about accommodation, managing landlords and signing contracts. Citizens Advice also has information about student housing.
I make plans to see classmates or friends during study breaks to ensure I don't become isolated or lonely. I also make plans each day to leave the house and get outside. Going for a walk is a useful way of relaxing and clearing my head.
Lots of students feel lonely. Social media can give the impression that all of your friends are having the best time, all the time. This comparison can make you feel lonelier and loneliness can have a big impact on your mental health. Remember that people usually only post photos of the positive times on social media. This can give a false impression of how great things are.
Take a look at the social media accounts or websites of mental health charities. There are some listed in our Useful contacts. Many have platforms to network and share experiences in a safe way.
You could try joining a peer support group, either online or in person.
- Side by Side, is a supportive online space where you can share experiences and listen to others who have similar mental health issues.
- There might be groups at your institution specifically for students who are experiencing mental health problems. Student Minds runs peer support programmes and mental health campaign groups at universities across the UK.
- The Mix has an online community, for anyone aged under 25.
Remember your peers are often in the same situation. They'll appreciate you talking to them. Even if you're shy, maybe you could:
- Talk to someone, or just say hello, before and after each lecture or class
- Meet classmates in the library to plan a joint piece of work
- Chat to people you are living with while making food in a shared kitchen
This information was published in March 2023. We will revise it in 2026.
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