Mental Health

Image of female student walking

Immediate help for yourself or someone close

If you’re worried about yourself or someone close to you, the Student Counselling Service has a good list of organisations that can provide immediate support.

  • The Samaritans provide confidential support 24 hours a day by phone, face-to-face, email and letter. 08457 909090 / Visit 37 St Nicholas Street, Bristol  BS1 1TP. Email:

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year

(Source: Mind)

In the Speak Your Mind survey conducted by Bristol SU, 25% of students said that they had a previous diagnosis of a mental health problem (out of 2100 responses). So if you encounter mental health difficulties while at University (or already have) you shouldn’t feel like you’re the only one.

Who to talk to

If you are worried about your mental health it can really help to speak to someone about it.

Some common mental health issues


Staying healthy can help reduce the effects of stress. We’ve some tips on beating stress through healthy diet, physical activity, and other tactics. Our Exam Survival Guide can help you cope if anxiety and stress are being made worse by worry over exams. It can help to talk to someone: see our list of counselling, support and mentoring links below.


Overall, depression occurs in 1 in 10 adults or 10 per cent of the population in Britain at any one time

(Source: Mind)

Depression is surprisingly common, and can make people miserable, lacking interest or pleasure, with low self-esteem. It can affect sleep, appetite, energy and concentration levels. Depression often doesn’t have an obvious cause.

Feeling shy, lonely or excluded?

Many students feel lonely at times. It can seem that everyone else is out having fun and making friends, or that other students seem more confident and that you have little in common with them. Most students have these thoughts at some point at university.

  • Find like-minded people. Join a society. Get involved in exercise with others through sports clubs or through our Get Active programme.
    Or get involved in your community by volunteering.
    Go along to things you will enjoy rather than going against your instincts and going along with the crowd in the hope of fitting in. Try and be optimistic about your experiences - if you go to one club/society event and decide it’s not for you don’t write them off - try another one. If you find attending such an event on your own daunting, why not contact the committee in advance so that they can welcome you. As well as clubs and societies there are also Student-Led Support Groups and Liberation Forums run by Bristol SU.
  • Talk to people. Try the Student Counselling Service if loneliness is getting you down. They are really friendly and professionally trained to help students manage anxiety. The charity Mind have a page all about How to cope with loneliness. Also see our list of counselling, support and mentoring links below.
  • Remember you're not the only one. Feeling shy? Contrary to first impressions you won’t be the only one. Other students may look confident but they may be acting more confident than they really feel and are just as shy and nervous as you are. Don’t shut yourself away but keep an eye out for other students who look approachable. Trust your instincts. If someone looks friendly and on your wavelength go for it.
  • Pace yourself! Check out what’s out there but don’t succumb to “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and exhaust yourself. Allow time to recharge your batteries, get enough sleep and look after yourself (as well as study!).

Eating disorders

If the way you eat makes you ill or unhappy, you may have an eating disorder. Obsessive thoughts, behaviours or actions around food or body image are all symptoms of an eating disorder. Talking to someone else can really help - see our page about eating disorders, and our list of counselling, support and mentoring links below.

Sexuality and gender

Worries about your sexuality or gender, or about how other people perceive them, can cause stress, anxiety, and unhappiness. See our general page of advice for LGBT+ people and our list of counselling, support and mentoring links below, including our LGBT+ support group. Also, the charity Mind has a great list of contacts for information about sexuality and mental health.

Are your studies affected? Apply for Extenuating Circumstances!

If your mental health has affected your performance in an assessment, or you think it might, you should:

1. Speak to your doctor – visit the Students’ Health Service.

2. Submit an extenuating circumstances form

Submitting extenuating circumstances (ECs) means the University can consider your situation when making decisions about your performance. It is much better to submit ECs and not need them to be considered, than to just hope that everything will be okay and later regret that once you have your results.

See our web pages all about ECs, or speak with a Just Ask adviser for more information.

Counselling, support and mentoring

From Bristol SU

  • Just Ask - free, confidential, independent advice for all students. Just Ask do not provide counselling but can direct you to other services and help you navigate University processes.
  • Nightline - 01179 266 266 - a telephone-based listening and information service run by students, for students. They are happy to listen to anything you want to talk about. 8pm-8am during term
  • LGBT+ support group - a safe and confidential space for students to chat through questions or worries about sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Peace of Mind - student society dedicated to positive mental health and supporting students with mental health problems, and their supporters

From University of Bristol

  • See the full list of support services available from the University.
  • Speak to your doctor – if you are registered with them, make an appointment with the Students’ Health Service.
  • Counselling from Student Services – a free, confidential service for students. Individual counselling, but also workshops, group and self-help advice
  • The University's Disability Services provides a range of advice and support for students with long term mental health difficulties.
  • The Multifaith Chaplaincy provides opportunities for students to explore spirituality, faith and belief. They also provide confidential support and a relaxed space for all students
  • The Careers Service helps with career planning for students, including providing advice on disclosing mental health difficulies to employers and looking after your wellbeing while working
  • The Vulnerable Student' Support Service provides support to the most vulnerable students, including assisting staff managing cirses and emergencies. They coordinate support for the most vulnerable students who are, for whatever reason, having difficulties functioning or continuing their studies for non-academic reasons.

Other useful mental health resources

  • Off the Record Bristol offer young people aged up to 25 free, confidential counselling and support.
  • Mind – charity working in mental health, with lots of great advice on their website.
  • Bipolar UK - provide a range of services to enable people affected by bipolar and associated illnesses to take control of their lives.
  • Student Minds - A Mental Health Charity for students delivering research – driven training and support to equip students to bring about positive change on their campuses through campaigning and facilitating peer support programmes. Join the Bristol Facebook Group.