Supporting Students

If you work in education you want to be in a position to offer the right support to students with mental health problems.

Research indicates that students may be more likely than other groups to experience mental health problems and that serious mental health problems among students are increasing.

Creating a culture in which students can ask for and receive reasonable adjustments at an early stage is likely to make it easier for students to complete their course.

Every year 1 in 4 of us in Scotland will experience a mental health problem, so this is an issue that affects us all. Reasonable adjustments are not about unfair advantages or favouritism, but are a way of removing barriers preventing students who have mental health problems from getting the most out of their education – or sometimes from participating in education at all. 

Adjustments need to be agreed between the student and the relevant staff member(s). Your institution will have procedures for making reasonable adjustments and you should become familiar with these.

Some mental health problems can be episodic, a person can experience long periods when they are perfectly well, but may then experience a further period of difficulty. The times when they are unwell will not always be the same, but there may be symptoms or issues that are common to each episode. So rather than agreeing one or more specific adjustments that will apply all the time, it may be more helpful to agree adjustments that can be implemented when they are needed and revoked when they are not. 

Students should not feel they have to disclose every aspect of their mental health problem. Your discussions should focus on the problems they are experiencing, and what actions can be taken to address them. Your institution will have guidance on where to refer students when they need emotional support or counselling. 

How to cope with student life

A useful guide with self help information and contact details to help students cope if they have a mental health problem.