Student Counselling and wellbeing

From time to time you may need to refer students to other support services in the University if they are finding it hard to cope, or to get specialist support for issues they may be going through.

When students experience problems it can be helpful to talk over the situation with someone else who is not involved. This can be a friend or a close family member or it can be a counsellor who has the professional skills and expertise to assist people with emotional and psychological difficulties.

Referring students to the Student Counselling and wellbeing

This information is for staff who have concerns about a student and may be considering referring the student for counselling. If you have any questions about the process you may consult a counsellor in confidence prior to a referral, preferably without revealing the student's identity.

What we offer

Counselling provides people the time and space to explore problems and come to a deeper understanding of themselves and their choices confidentially.
We provide:
  • Therapeutic Consultations
  • Information about therapeutic resources
  • Individual counselling
  • Workshops
  • Meditation group
  • Web based self-help resources
  • Big White Wall

Following online application to the Student Counselling and Wellbeing, a Therapeutic Consultation (TC) with a Senior Practitioner provides a student with a one-off opportunity to explore the problems that concern them, and to identify ways to help them move forward. The TC may result in identifying strategies or tasks to try out, and/or referring the student to useful resources. A short follow-up is usually offered 3-4 weeks later. Some students will be referred for counselling, which gives time and space to explore problems and come to a deeper understanding of themselves and their choices confidentially.

Who to refer

Those students who: 

  • Can be helped more effectively by a professional counsellor
  • Do not respond readily to your own offers of help
  • Are unable to concentrate on their studies because of personal difficulties
  • Are anxious, depressed or feeling suicidal.

How to refer

  • Let the student know about the boundaries and limitations of your role
  • Explain the nature of the help that might be offered
  • Encourage students to make appointments themselves by directing them to the self-referral form
  • Let the student know that referral to a counsellor does not cut them off from your own care and concern.

The Tutor's role after referral

How staff can continue to monitor a student they are concerned about after referral to the Student Counselling and Wellbeing:

  • Explain the boundaries of your tutorial relationship with the student, eg counsellor - personal counselling; tutor - academic support
  • Ask the student directly what support they require from you
  • Set contracts, for example; agree to meet every fortnight at a set time to come together
  • Ask the student to monitor his or her progress.

Critical Incidents/Emergencies

In a critical incident or emergency where a student is threatening suicide or displaying severe mental health problems, it may be more appropriate to contact either Security (32222), who will be able to contact the relevant emergency services, or the student's GP.
Please feel free to contact us for advice or guidance if this situation arises.

Find out more about what to do in an emergency

Helping students with mental health difficulties 

Comprehensive guidelines for recognising and helping students with Mental Health difficulties are available for all staff. This includes an easy to follow model of what kind of action to take as well as comprehensive list of internal and external support.

Mitigating Circumstances

When appropriate, Student Counselling and Wellbeing can provide a standard email to support a plea of mitigating circumstances or a email confirming attendance. Eligibility for this is detailed in our policy on mitigating circumstances below.

  • We do not provide psychological or medical assessments
  • We cannot provide a email for students that have not had any previous therapeutic contact with the Student Counselling and Wellbeing.
  • No information is given about a student without their consent.
  • If you have any questions about Student Counselling and Wellbeing's policy on providing evidence on mitigating circumstances or letters of attendance, please feel free to call the Centre and speak to the Head of Service or a core team member. Alternatively you can view our Mitigating Circumstance Policy.

The Student Counselling and Wellbeing Policy on providing emails

Mitigating Circumstances

"Mitigating circumstances are significantly disruptive and/or unexpected events which are beyond your control (i.e. illness, bereavement) but which might affect your academic performance when submitting assessed work or sitting examinations."


“If illness or personal difficulties have intervened during a candidature and prevented a student from progressing their research the student may be granted a suspension of registration for a period necessary to overcome the difficulties. Where such circumstances have had a significant adverse effect on the progress of the research an extension of study may be granted.”


Where appropriate, counsellors will provide emails in support of mitigating circumstances where those circumstances interfered with the students' ability to focus on academic work and where the students clearly tried to manage with our help.


The following points contain information and guidelines about when we will provide this kind of email:
  • The counsellor needs to be confident that s/he is in a position to make a judgement that the issues that the client has brought to the counselling have seriously affected his or her ability to meet course requirements.
  • In order to make this kind of a judgement, the counsellor needs to have a clear awareness and understanding of the client's difficulties.
  • Generally, this means that the student has attended a therapeutic consultation process or a counselling contract.
  • Providing evidence of this kind for a client needs to come as a result of the counselling and not be the purpose of it.
  • Emails will only ever be provided at the student's request and with the student's permission.
  • The counsellor will provide a standard email which does not go into any specific details. Any mitigating circumstances letter sent by Student Counselling and Wellbeing, will, however, state the number of sessions attended and the time period.
  • Even if a counsellor has seen a student for a therapeutic consultation and several counselling sessions, s/he may not feel that providing this kind of evidence is appropriate.
  • For Postgraduate research students, we provide letters confirming mitigating circumstances to support requests for supervsision/extension of study.

Emails confirming attendance

In certain circumstances we may provide emails confirming the attendance of a student here at Student Counselling and Wellbeing. However, the provision of an email confirming attendance is not in itself, proof of a mitigating circumstance.

Emails confirming fitness to study

We do not provide emails/letter confirming fitness to study. These letters can only be provided by a doctor.

If you have any further questions, please contact the Head of Student Counselling and Wellbeing, Jane Harris: 

tel: 0113 343 4107

Further information and details of codes of ethical frameworks can be found on the BACP or UKCP websites.

Staff counselling

If you have a contract of employment, you may be eligible for staff counselling.