It is useful to view mental health as a continuum of experience from mental wellness through to worry, stress and low mood or to a more severe and enduring mental illness. From time to time personal reactions to the challenges of daily life such as bereavement, financial difficulty, and relationship or study problems may introduce changes in an individual’s mental wellbeing that might require intervention or support. Some individuals may experience more severe reactions requiring the intervention medical or other specialist services and continued support.

As in the general population, mental health difficulties have been seen to be on the increase amongst the student body. Students have some unique challenges that impact upon their wellbeing. They may be living away from home for the first time, managing bills, washing, cooking and perhaps struggling to make friends whilst managing their study work load, new freedoms and responsibilities and striving to perform. Low mood or anxiety are usually the most common symptoms experienced by students in relation to the general stresses and strains associated with study. Anxiety can be a normal reaction to the stress but some students may reach a point where it becomes unmanageable and they experience more acute anxiety, panic attacks or low mood which impacts upon their day to day functioning and/or academic performance. A minority of students may experience more enduring mental illness such as depression, eating disorders, psychosis or schizophrenia. Some students may arrive at University having been previously diagnosed with an enduring mental health difficulty others may become develop difficulties during the course of their studies. If effective support is not accessed appropriately this could lead to a student’s withdrawal from the University.