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University Mental Health Day - Prevention is better than a cure

University Mental Health Day – March 9th, 2023 Susan Hirst, Disabled Students' Community Leader, writes about mental health at universities and lets you know where you can go for support.

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Please note that this article discusses struggles with mental health and mentions suicidal feelings and abuse.

Susan Hirst, Disabled Students' Community Leader, writes about mental health at universities and lets you know where you can go for support.

Recent statistics from disability services at Leeds Beckett University (LBU) have demonstrated that this academic year, out of approximately 24000 students including approximately 4000 disabled students at the university, 898 students are living with mental health conditions. Good mental health is important to everyone and statistics from Mind charity recognise that mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people every year (Mind, 2020). 

This does not include those students who are living with mental health conditions and may be prevented by stigma or cultural barriers from seeking help. This is a negative cycle to destruction which can be stopped and cured by early diagnosis and help. 

The good news is that LBU has some help and support available. Access to this support and help in preventing or minimising the effects of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression is very important to the wellbeing of every student at Leeds Beckett University.


There are a number of different recognised mental health conditions including anxiety which has symptoms of worry, fear and being tense and can include poor sleep patterns and panic attacks.  Depression which has symptoms of low mood lasting for a long time and affecting day to day life.  People can also suffer with phobias which is an extreme form of fear or anxiety. Eating problems such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating is also common.  There are lots of other personality disorders as well as bipolar.  However, the important message is that if they are untreated, these conditions can worsen.  



Starting at University is a time of change for all students as they may often move across the country or travel to a new country to embark on a journey of education with the hope of a bright future. However, this can also be a time of severe social isolation and loneliness.  Mental Health conditions can be triggered by a wide range of causes and often a combination of factors.

The financial position of students can be a very significant trigger also especially in 2023 with the current cost of living crisis, strikes and unrest in the UK which may increase the feeling of financial burden on students.  It is also a time, when students may have to take on a large financial burden of student debt and may only afford poor housing and this may be overwhelming and be a cause of anxiety and severe or long term stress.

Academic stress is another trigger factor especially around exam time for students, but there can also be other serious underlying causes such as sexual violence or abuse or something as simple as family or friend relationships. 

There is also clear evidence that students who suffer with a long-term physical disability are naturally more prone to suffering with a mental health condition especially if they have to live with chronic pain on a daily basis. This makes them more vulnerable and in need of greater help.


Your doctor can help to diagnose and prescribe medication for a common mental health condition such as anxiety and depression or refer you to a specialist or recommend local support options for you.   It is important that if you or a friend or family member are experiencing any symptoms of a mental health condition that you get help as soon as possible. 

Seeking help is the important step first step to getting well and there is lots of help out there. It’s perfectly natural to feel unsure if you can cope or not with what’s happening in your life, and you might want to consider getting help if you feel any of these mild symptoms:

  • Worry or stress.
  • Feeling unable to cope
  • Having negative thoughts and feelings about yourself
  • Think you might need to know more about support or treatment.

Mindwell have pages specifically for students.

Student Space also have really helpful resources about looking after your wellbeing. 

In addition, LBU wellbeing have an events page with have sessions running throughout the year, e.g., managing worry, sleep etc.



If you recognise that a friend or family member is suffering with difficult thoughts and feelings, you can help them by listening to them, offering reassurance and keeping social contact with them, checking in on them regularly.  You could make any helpful suggestions about seeking help and go with them to a doctor appointment or to access university services. If it is an emergency situation, then call 999 or help them get to A & E for immediate help.  If it is not an emergency, then NHS 111 may also be able to help.




Disability Services can help in a number of ways.They have a disability advice line: 0113 812 5831. They also have a disability advice web page offering advice and support for students.

There are student drop-in sessions from 12.30 to 1.30 Monday to Thursday at both campuses. They also offer a student study drop in session for 30 minutes from 10am to 1pm Monday to Thursday so student can book a 30 minute session with them.

Also, don’t forget the library has designated study spaces for disabled students at both campuses and offer a free postal book service to students.



LBU wellbeing team have a number of ways that they can support our students including:

  • There is a facilitated peer support group at Headingley campus (in James Graham building) every Tuesday evening and anyone can drop-in.  
  • For anyone interested in short-term counselling or mental health support, students can self-refer at this link and self-book a first appointment.
  • If students aren’t sure where to start or what support they need, a good place to go is Student Advice in Student Services.
  • If students have experienced harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, bullying, there is the Support Report Respect tool. 
  • Student Space also provide support via phone, text, chat, email, and they provide tailored support for students who might face additional challenges.



  • The university recognises that, from time to time, students may encounter issues which may prevent them from being able to submit or take assessment. This page explains how a student should submit their Extenuating Circumstances for consideration if they find themselves in this situation.
  • You can seek advice on this procedure from LBSU Advice Service.



There are plenty of external organisations and charities offering support including Mind charity and Leeds Nightline whose instant messaging service is open 4 nights a week between 8pm and 8am. They report on their website that they answered over 9300 calls from students in 2020 – 2021.

The Samaritans of Leeds have a free confidential help line; 116 123 free from any phone and have listeners that will support callers on the pone and by email in times of emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also have a charity shop in Headingly at 27 North Lane, Headingly Leeds, LS6 3HW if students want to support them by making purchase or donations.



Mental Health at our university is important for everyone. Think about your mental health in much the same way as you think about your physical health, we need to look after it. It is a good idea to register with a GP where you are living because not having a local GP can be a barrier if you do need support. 

Although studying can be stressful at times, this is not inevitable since studying should have a positive impact on mental health, and good mental health should help us do well with our studies.  It can be hard to ask for help, try speaking to someone you feel more comfortable with.  If you’re concerned about your mental health, it’s important that you see your GP as soon as possible. 

The most important thing for everyone to build a stronger student community is to look out for signs of mental health problems in yourself, your friends and your family. Please seek help early to prevent this problem getting worse, and ultimately at the worst end taking the lives of bright, gifted, important members of our student community. Remember that it is never too late to seek help. If you see something, say something.

Finally, please join our community on the 9th of March 2023 online using #UniMentalHealthDay in recognising University Mental Health day and making it a university wide priority and to help improve the future of student mental health at LBU. 

Any information about support and associated links to external pages are correct at the time of publication.