Long Term Mental Health Conditions

Approximately 4% of all university students are diagnosed with a long-term mental health condition.  This qualifies as a disability under the Equality Act 2010

Students may have diagnoses such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, or an eating disorder.

The pressures of student life and being away from home may exacerbate existing mental health difficulties.  For example, deadlines and exam stress, learning in new ways, finding your way around, being in crowded places, loss of support networks, changing GP, or moving from child to adult mental health services.  International students may not be able to get the medication and treatment they received in their home country.

Students who take medication may also have side-effects of medication to cope with.  For example sleep problems, memory problems, headaches and nausea.

Students may struggle with attendance and meeting deadlines, for a variety of reasons. Supporting a sense of belonging and a compassionate curriculum can particularly help students with long term mental health conditions.

It can help reduce stigma if there is a culture of being open about mental health difficulties, such as information being displayed and shared about where to go for support, and mental health being discussed as part of regular student interactions.  Students with long-term mental health conditions can get support with their mental health from the student counselling and wellbeing service.

There are a number of ways in which you can adjust teaching to help students with long-term mental health conditions to participate effectively.

  • Upload all lecture notes and other teaching materials to the virtual learning environment (VLE) in advance of lectures.  This means students can familiarise themselves with the content, which helps reduce anxiety.
  • Use lecture capture or record lectures so that students can re-watch content
  • Avoid unexpectedly asking students to speak in front of others or read aloud
  • Allow students to leave or take a break if they are experiencing panic or anxiety; consider a seat near the door for those students who might need it
  • Offer spaced-out deadlines and avoid short deadlines
  • Arrange additional meetings with their personal tutor and check in about their mental health and wellbeing
  • If you know of a student who has a long-term mental health condition but has not contacted Disability Services, encourage them to contact us.