University or college support

Happy and successful students are very important to universities and colleges. It is in their interest to offer you all the help you need with your course, and most universities and colleges have a wide variety of student services to help with this.

Your university or college wants to help

It is increasingly important to universities and colleges that they provide all the support necessary for a good student experience, and successful completion of your course. It makes sense for you to make full use of these services – and you will usually find that they are staffed by people who very much want to help!

Academic departments

Most academic departments will have a personal tutor system or some other method for arranging ‘pastoral care’ for its students. Make use of this system as soon as possible when you realise you are having difficulties. Tutors are in a much better position to help when you go to them early.

Tutors and advisors can offer:

  • expertise and advice about difficulties with your work
  • good advice eg. about how to prioritise your work in order not to fall too far behind
  • referral to appropriate other student services
  • deadline extensions, recognition of extenuating circumstances, ‘time out’

Remember that tutors are humans too. Some of them are more skilled at pastoral work than others. If you don’t feel your assigned personal tutor is approachable, choose someone else in the department and ask their advice about your options. If you have a negative experience, try someone else. Ask other students about who they have found approachable.

Other student services

  • Study skills advice/mentoring
    A mentor or study skills advisor can offer help in tackling procrastination or other difficulties with your work caused by depression.
  • Financial support & advice
    Many universities and colleges have a student finance office that can arrange hardship funds or loans and advise on how to deal with financial pressures.
  • University health centre
    Most universities have GP services on or near campus with doctors who are experienced in working with students.
  • University or college counselling service
    Most universities and many colleges have a counselling service with qualified counsellors specialising in working with students, and usually very experienced in working with depression.
  • Educational or learning support office
    Different universities and colleges may have different names for this service, which organises official support for student with special needs or disabilities. Those with more severe depression may benefit. In particular, this office might be able to arrange financial support in the form of the ‘Disabled Students Allowance’ which can be spent on individually-tailored support, like a mentor or a laptop.
  • Mental health advisers
    Most universities and colleges now have mental health advisers who offer support to students with any kind of mental health difficulty, including depression. They can liaise with other services, like counsellors and disability advisers and may be responsible for ensuring that a student has a proper individually tailored support plan.

Next: Building a good support network

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