Good practice advice
All published and web-based material should accurately represent the support services available and who students should go to for help. These should include, departmental pastoral support (personal tutors, senior tutor, departmental disability officers), Student Counselling and Mental Health Advice Service, the Student Disability Advisory Service, Imperial College Health Centre, the Student Hub (accommodation). Where appropriate admissions tutors and other staff should ensure that these applicants are given clear information on the benefits of declaring their difficulties and encourage students to declare any mental health difficulties. Accurate information on the support available in the College should also be provided. Students who have declared an enduring mental health difficulty should be encouraged to contact the Disability Advisory Service to discuss the support needs.
Imperial College support services provide a range of welfare and advice services.
to help staff when considering and responding to difficult or challenging situations. By identifying problems at an early stage and referring students on to appropriate services, students can be offered advice and personal support to enable then to study effectively and maintain their health.
Student Support Services
Departmental Pastoral support
All students are allocated to a Personal tutor who offers pastoral support. They may often know their personal tutees very well and can help if there are particular difficulties either personal or family problems or, for example, financial difficulty.
Senior Tutors (Undergraduate and Postgraduate)
The Senior Tutor (UG) and Senior Tutor (PG) are respectively responsible for the pastoral care of undergraduate and post-graduate thought students in their department. The Senior Tutor manages the personal tutoring system within the department, and is a source of support for Personal Tutors and for students with more complex concerns. They also can liaise with other College services.
Departmental Disability Officer
The Departmental Disability Officer is the first of contact within a student’s department. They will apply for special exam arrangements on the student’s behalf and will facilitate the student’s support within the department.
They also can liaise closely with other College services. Each support service also has a Disability Officer who is able to give advice within their own area of expertise.
Mental Health First Aiders
Mental Health First Aiders are trained to understand mental wellbeing and to support individuals who may show signs that they are experiencing a mental health problem, and give them information on where they can get help.
Faculty Senior Tutors
The Faculty Senior Tutors are available for additional support and guidance, augmenting the support that your department can provide for academic and personal matters. You may find a Faculty Senior Tutor particularly useful if you have a matter which you feel is highly sensitive or complicated and wish to ensure that you will be talking to the right person or team to help you. The Faculty Senior Tutors are:
Dr Benita (Baggy) Cox – Business School
Dr Lorraine Craig – Faculty of Engineering
Professor Richard Thompson – Faculty of Natural Sciences
Dr Jeffrey Vernon – Faculty of Medicine
Imperial College Health Centre
The Health Centre has a multi-disciplinary team, including doctors, nurses, psychotherapists, psychologists and a visiting psychiatrist, to support those with mental health difficulties. The duty doctor can be contacted in a crisis or where advice or on-going support is needed. In an emergency, contact the reception team by telephoning +44 (0)20 7584 6301 and ask to speak to duty doctor. Where the situation is less acute consider a telephone call or e-mail.
The Student Counselling and Mental Health Advice Service
The Student Counselling team is a student self-referral service offering short-term counselling to all registered students at College. Student Counselling offers a confidential and safe place for students to talk about any personal issue that is troubling them. It is free and confidential, and is available at the South Kensington, Hammersmith and Silwood Park Campuses. The Student Counselling Service also offers various events and workshops throughout the year in support of student wellbeing.
The Mental Health Advice team provides support for students who may have had, or are experiencing moderate to severe mental health difficulties. Student Mental Health Advisers offer practical advice, risk management and liaison with internal and external services where appropriate. Students need to be referred by a member of College staff, with the student’s permission, in order to be seen by the Mental Health Advisers. Study Mentors: Mental Health aim to work collaboratively with individual students to assess their study needs, set specific study goals and develop appropriate study skills and learning strategies. Students need to be referred by the Disability Advisory Service or Student Mental Health Adviser, with the student’s permission, in order to be seen by the Study Mentors: Mental Health.
Disability Advisory Service
The Disability Advisory Service offers confidential advice and support to all students who have a disability including students who are have an enduring mental health condition, facilitating support for both within the College and externally. The Disability Advisory Service can provide advice on academic and financial support available including arranging mentoring and or study skills support and signposting any additional support that disabled students can access during their studies. Disability Advisors are able to support staff in deciding how best to help individual students as long as there are no issues of confidentiality.
The Chaplaincy helps people with both religious and philosophically based beliefs, explore the experiences that give purpose and meaning. We also seek to deepen understanding between people of different beliefs and world views. The chaplaincy runs a number of events throughout the year on subjects such as, inspiring leadership, guided prayer, meditation and mindfulness
Many students have never encountered communal living before and this at times can have an adverse effect on a student’s mental wellbeing. Some risk factors, such as sudden financial independence coupled with low money skills or the possible access to drugs and alcohol, as well as high expectations not being met can affect emotional and mental health. There is also a danger that emotionally vulnerable students or those with poor social skills could become isolated, marginalised or bullied. Wardens are responsible for the wellbeing of all residents of Imperial halls and promote social life within their hall and encourage social inclusion. Wardens are on call every evening and all weekend to sensitively handle any emergencies.
Student Union Advice Centre
It is crucial to success and happiness at University that small concerns or issues do not develop into insurmountable problems. The Advice Centre offers advice and support on a wide range of issues, including problems with courses and academic performance. It is impartial and confidential. The Union runs the Centre independently of the College.
Confidentiality, disclosure and data protection
Staff should be aware of the issues around confidentiality and the need to protect personal information. The rights of the individual must be respected taking into account the Equality Act 2010 and Data Protection Act 1998. All students have the right to privacy and confidentiality, but maintaining confidentiality alongside appropriate disclosure of information may sometimes be difficult to manage. Ensuring confidentiality is vital in encouraging students to seek help when appropriate. When supporting someone who is experiencing mental health problems, situations may arise where it is necessary to discuss a student’s needs with support services or other academic staff. In these situations, the students consent should always be sought. If the student does not give consent, information cannot be shared. Only in exceptional circumstances, where there is a need to act without a student’s prior consent because there is immediate risk to the individual student themselves or to others around them or if there is a legal obligation to do so, then confidentiality might need to be extended appropriately. Where this is the case it is permissible share limited information on a need to know basis to enable the appropriate support to be provided to the student.
When a student is considered to be at risk of harm to self or others, case conferences can provide a forum to enable staff involved to work together to ensure there is a cohesive support and safety strategy for that individual student. This may include the student's Personal or Senior Tutor, Disability Advisor, Counsellor, Student Mental Health Adviser, a College Tutor/College Senior Tutor, Imperial College Health Centre doctor, Hall Warden and the Director of Student Services. Case conferences can allow staff to explore different support mechanisms appropriate to the student’s needs with all the relevant information about support that is being accessed already. As always it is essential to consider the need for confidentiality, privacy and providing information on a need-to-know basis only.