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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.

This section is for friends and family who want to help someone they know with a mental health problem who is studying or considering becoming a student.

When a friend or family member becomes a student, it can bring lots of changes to their life. There are things you can do to help them manage these changes. 

  • Keep in touch – make the effort to stay in contact. Even if they appear very busy, they are likely to appreciate the effort.
  • Make time to be together – if they've moved away, visit them where they are studying. This can give you the opportunity to understand more about their new life. But accept that for some, student life can be busy. So be patient and flexible to find dates that work. 
  • Ask them how they are doing – it doesn't have to be a serious conversation about mental health, but most people will appreciate being asked. If you're worried about how they're doing, creating time and space for an honest answer can help. This could be while going for a walk, doing a joint activity such as crafting or even washing up.

From the second my parents found out about my illness, everything was about supporting me but also trying to get things back to normal for me, and never about holding me back. They gave me endless support.

  • Take an interest – ask them about what they're working on at the moment or about their course.
  • Give them space – if they've left home for the first time, remember that being a student is part of a process of gaining independence and growing up. It's natural that they may not want to tell you everything.
  • Offer practical help, especially if you're nearby – for example, help with a routine task, such as preparing or cooking food. 
  • Help them to make the transition between healthcare services at home and university, and encourage them to access the support available to them.
  • Remember that studying can feel like a job – while they may not be going to a full time job, studying can take up a lot of time. It can involve long hours in lectures or busy work placements. Try to understand that they can feel under a lot of pressure, and offer them support.

Understand that student life isn't a walk in the park for everyone and it isn't necessarily the 'time of your life'.

Look after yourself

Supporting someone else can have an impact on your own mental health. For more information see:

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

References and bibliography available on request.

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