Starting university: a guide for students

White curve
How and where to seek support

The support of friends or family can really help if you’re feeling isolated or struggling to cope with university.

You can try and manage on your own, and worry about being a burden, but a problem shared is usually a problem halved. Anyone who cares about you will want to help, just as you would want to help them. Speaking with others can allow you to find perspective on your problem, and support can make a real difference.

It may be that you don’t want to talk to someone you know. If so, your university will have services that can help: from counselling to financial advice to disability and international students support. These online resources are also highly recommended:

If you feel that you can’t look after yourself at all, please go to your nearest A&E or even call an ambulance if your thoughts are frightening.

Remember that you are not on your own. Help is always available if you ask for it.

In general, students tend to fall into one of two categories:

Optimist or worrier diagram

The Optimist

You may have a huge circle of friends from school or college and an extremely supportive family. That’s great if you have a trusted circle to turn to if you need anything.

This network will be able to help you, as long as you tell them if you’re struggling and don’t face your problems alone. Sometimes we want everyone to think that everything is going well and don’t want to worry people, yet we all need to share our troubles with others.

Be prepared for some of your friendships to shift and change with time; as you have new and different experiences, so will your old friends. That’s a good thing.

You will be friends with some people for life but some friendships fade with distance and time. That’s perfectly normal, and losing touch with past friends is sometimes part of growing up.

Mother with arm around daughter

The Worrier

Your family may have problems and you don’t want to worry them with your own. You may find it hard to make friends and have few people to talk to.

Feeling like you are a burden to others is a horrible feeling, yet it’s rarely true. Even when others are going through hard times, they will still want to be able to support you if they can.

Don’t isolate yourself from others: this can make your mental health deteriorate and the problems become larger. If you don’t want to talk to family or friends, or don’t feel comfortable sharing with new friends just yet, speak to either the student welfare or academic support team at your university. Don’t go it alone.

Girl Dreaming



Starting University

A resource for young people about to start university

View resource

Wellbeing Action Plan (child)

A simple, resource to help young people keep themselves well and get them through difficult times

View resource

Warning signs poster

A bold A3 poster showing the warning signs that tell you when someone may be depressed. This poster could save a life.

View resource

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