For friends and family

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.

Being a student or becoming a student involves many changes for friends and family. There are lots of things you can do to help manage these changes.

  • Keep in touch – make the effort to be the one who stays in contact. Even if they appear very busy, they are likely to appreciate the effort
  • Make time to be together – visiting them at university can give you the opportunity to understand more about their new life and feel more engaged. For some, university life can be busy, so finding dates that work might require patience and flexibility
  • Accept that things may change – they are likely to have made new friends, or have new commitments that take up their time
  • Ask them how they are doing – it does not have to be a serious conversation about mental health, but most people will appreciate being asked
  • Take an interest – try asking them about what they are working on at the moment or about their course
  • Give them space – if they have left home for the first time, remember that being a student is part of a process of gaining independence and growing up. It is natural that they do not want to tell you everything
  • Offer practical help – offer help with a routine task, such as preparing or cooking food. This sort of thing will really be appreciated, and save them time and stress
  • Remember that studying can feel like a job – studying can take up a lot of time, 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 –university is not a walk in the park for everyone
  • Look after yourself – supporting someone else can have an impact on your own mental health


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