Back to advice

What to do if you’re struggling

By British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

Friday 28 June 2013 Student Mental Health

Being a student can be stressful. New home, new work, new friends; the pressure of essays and exams; money, debt, and making decisions about your future; it can all be unsettling and demanding in an unfamiliar way.  Add to this the more personal issues that happen along life’s way and you can end up feeling depressed, anxious, or just generally upset. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed and not sure how best to manage.

Everyone, in all walks of life, experiences problems, and your time at university is no exception. It is not a reflection on you, or your ‘success’ at university, and these problems are all solvable. The important thing is not to think you have to keep them to yourself.

What to do?

Universities want to support their students and they have excellent facilities available to help deal with problems. They have good internal and external links, and will be able to refer you to the right service depending on your situation.

The first thing to do is to talk to someone - friends, family, tutor, GP or a counsellor. The best person to talk to will depend on the nature of your problem. In some cases, talking to your personal support network of friends and family might be just right. If the source of anxiety is academic, then it might be important to talk to your tutor. For something like bereavement or depression, it might be helpful to talk to a professional counsellor, someone who is outside the situation and who will know what to say. There are no rules about what you can and can’t speak to a counsellor about, and they can identify the appropriate resource to help you work through the problem swiftly. Counsellors have the advantage of being qualified, impartial and confidential. And it might be useful to talk to more than one person; for example talking to one service could help with the practical issues, and another the emotional side. Talking to someone is a positive step towards making changes.


If you think you might need counselling, then the first place to look is your university’s website or information centre.

More information about counselling, what it involves and how it can help is available at Should your university not have its own counselling service, then this site also has a tool for you to find a counsellor local to you.

You can also find information specifically for students here.