Mental Health


Life at the university has many new challenges and while this can be exciting and enjoyable it can also be stressful… 

Many students find that they have times when it is difficult to cope. Support is available but only if you tell someone you are struggling. The university counselling service see students without referral from the medical centre. 

Our doctors and nurses are experienced in helping students through difficult periods. If you have a problem concerning yourself or a friend, please ask to see one of the nursing sisters or make a doctors appointment. 

All contact with us is confidential.


Depression is a very common experience.  

For some people it can be mild but for others it can be so severe that life hardly feels worth living. Causes of depression are numerous and it can often occur without any obvious trigger. Other people however, become depressed following a stressful life event. Either way it is best to seek help if you recognise the signs of depression in yourself.

Depression manifests itself in many ways but an almost universal symptom is unhappiness. This can be mixed with any number of symptoms such as feelings of guilt, hopelessness, inadequacy, self doubt, lack of interest in life or just plain tiredness. Depression can make it hard to sleep or you may find yourself waking up too early every day, it can decrease your libido or cause loss of appetite and in its worst form can make you feel suicidal.

What to do if you feel that something may be wrong 

Talk to someone.

It may be enough to talk things over with a relative or friend who may be able to help you through a bad patch.

Students may find it helpful to discuss things with the staff at the Dean of Students Office without an appointment from the doctor. 


Contact: Student Services 01603 592761 / [email protected] 

If you are a member of the university staff there is a designated counsellor and you can make arrangements for an appointment at the University Counselling Service.

If these things don’t seem to help or you find yourself feeling that life is not worth living it is definitely time to visit the Medical Centre and speak to one of the doctors. 


Simply talking about you feelings may be enough but some people may need further treatment in the form of antidepressants or specialised counselling.


If your depression is severe or goes on for a long time your doctor may suggest you take a course of antidepressants.

They are not addictive and they help people with depression to feel and cope better so they can start to enjoy life again, deal with their problems and become effective at work or in their studies. Most people respond well to treatment but it is important to remember that, unlike many medicines, you won’t feel the benefit of antidepressants straight away. 

People often don’t notice any improvement in their mood for 2 or 3 weeks but will occasionally notice side effects instead, although these are usually mild and tend to wear off as the treatment goes on.  Some can cause a dry mouth, constipation or sleepiness during the day.  If you do feel drowsy you should not drive or work with machinery until the effect wears off. 

Your doctor will make arrangements to see you on a regular basis to discuss how you feel the treatment is going. It is usual to take the medication for at least 6 months and stopping it too early may cause a relapse of your symptoms. When it is time to discontinue treatment, this should be done slowly over several weeks. 

What if you are not getting better?

A small number of depressed patients do not get better with these treatments. These patients are likely to be referred to the mental health team for further assessment by a psychiatric nurse or psychiatrist.

Effect on your course/studies

If you are a student and unable to cope with your studies you may need to take a break and either return to your family for a short period or reconsider your plans. In these cases you need to be in close contact with your tutors and school as they may suggest you intercalate (take a year out).

Self Help

If you want to tackle your feelings without medical help there are things you can do:

Talk it over: If you have recently had some bad news or a major upset in your life try not to bottle things up. Either talk to someone close to you or follow the suggestions in this leaflet.

Look after yourself: Take some regular physical exercise. Don’t take on too much. Take regular breaks. Try to get enough sleep.  Try to involve yourself in an activity and avoid isolating yourself. 

Learn how to relax: The Counselling Service runs relaxation classes and you can make enquiries without a doctor’s referral.  Resist the temptation to drown your sorrows in alcohol as this will only make things worse.

Optimism: Remember no matter how bad things get most people make a full recovery.