by Beth Robinson, Senior Resident
Whilst mental health awareness week has now passed, both mental health and wellbeing should and can continue to be a priority. As a student who also works for the University, I have often scrolled through different University websites in order to see what support is available. At ResiLife, we understand that stress at University can be due to multiple factors and so have devised a ‘go to’ list of excellent support services available depending on your own needs, including what the support is, a description of what it could offer, and how to get in contact if you think this could benefit you and/or someone you know – having a friend reach out can be incredibly valuable.
The areas covered here are:
- Direct and general mental health and wellbeing support
- Support for those who have encountered unacceptable behaviour
- Support for disabled students
- Financial, housing and careers support
- Faith and cultural networks
- University studies-related help
- Support from the Students’ Union
- Other resources, contacts and apps
Direct and general mental health and wellbeing support
Our team of Residential Life and Wellbeing advisers are on hand 24/7 to provide an impartial support service for all students at Bristol University. You can go to them for advice on any concerns or worries you may have. These concerns do not need to be limited to your accommodation and may include other issues such as adjusting to life at University, resolving problems with fellow students and supporting students who have physical and mental health needs. To access 24/7 wellbeing support, you can complete a request support form here, or call our 24/7 support line: 0117 456 9860. Senior and chief residents can also offer support, and if you don’t know who your senior resident is, you can contact ResiLife to find out. Each accommodation belongs to a village, which you can contact: North village, West village, and East village.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, feel your life is immediately at risk or have hurt yourself severely, you should call 999 or go to the nearest Accident and Emergency department.
If you are not in immediate crisis and would like to talk to someone from outside of the university about how you are feeling, you can contact the following helplines.
- The Samaritans – 123 116 – 24 hour listening service
- Bristol Mindline – 0808 808 0330 – between 19:00 and 23:00, 7 days a week
- SHOUT – 85258 – text ‘shout’ to chat by text with a trained volunteer 24/7
The Student Health Service can support with most physical and mental health needs. In addition to prescribing medication they can also refer patients to specialist therapies where appropriate. As many of the patients they treat are students they are usually very helpful when students need supporting evidence to apply for Extenuating Circumstances. You can register with the student health service here.
The Student Counselling Service is specific to the University of Bristol. They offer 1:1 counselling and group therapy. You can self-refer here, and the service can also direct you to different support if you would like, for example disability services (see below). You can request to be seen by someone with a specific background, for example male, female or an ethnic minority, and the service can provide evidence of extenuating circumstances if needed. The service also has a Mental Health Advisory Service, which work with students with complex mental health difficulties. You need to be referred to access this support, either via the Student Health Service, or by the wellbeing team (who will assess your self-referral form). This service can also help you access support via the NHS.
The Student Wellbeing Team support students who do not live in University Accommodation. They are a friendly and approachable team based in each academic school who can provide non clinical advice. They can help coordinate the right support for you through planning, problem solving and putting you in touch with specialist support services.
Nilaari is a culturally appropriate community-based charity, aimed at supporting BAME people in Bristol. Their Director has been named in the annual ‘BME 100 Powerlist’ and in Bristol’s ‘100 most influential people’. Nilaari offers social care support and talking therapies to support emotional wellbeing and mental health. You do not need a referral to access this support and can contact the team directly by phone: 0117 952 5742 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Specific support for those who have encountered unacceptable behaviour, either as a direct recipient or who have witnessed it
Specific support is available for unacceptable behaviours; Discrimination, Hate Crimes, Sexual Violence and Harassment, Bullying and Harassment, Domestic Violence and Physical Assault. You can report any form of unacceptable behaviour here, via the wellbeing request support form, which may be anonymous.
The University has both male and female Sexual Violence Liaison Officers with specialist training for those impacted by sexual violence and harassment, regardless of when or where the incident took place. If you have experienced bullying and harassment, you can also have an informal conversation with the Student Complaints Officer by emailing email@example.com. If you would like to make a formal complaint, the procedure can be found here.
Disability Services offer support to students with a wide range of both visible and invisible difficulties. They offer a wealth of specialist study support options, including mentors, study assistants, scribes and more. This support requires funding, which can be external (for example via SFE). You can approach them with any general questions, relating to pre-existing or new diagnoses and how they impact you, via phone: 0117 331 0444 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Each academic school has a disability coordinator, who can support you if you need advice in relation to how your disability may impact your study, and vice-versa. This includes physical access to spaces, questions about fitness to practice, alternative exam arrangements and more. You can find your school disability coordinator and their contact details here.
Financial, housing and careers support
The Student Finances Team can help with questions about student finances/opening bank accounts etc. There is also a list of bursaries and scholarships you may be elidable for here. If you are experiencing financial hardship, the University has emergency funds which you can apply for, including for undergraduates, postgraduates, international students. There are also Short Term Loans of up to £350 available, in addition to summer financial assistance funds and an additional Coronavirus Impact Fund. You can contact the finances team via email: email@example.com
If you are concerned about housing, Bristol SU Lettings are a union-affiliated housing company which regularly list new properties. They can also support you in finding other housing, for example by checking terms and conditions of a new tenancy.
The Careers Service are useful if you are feeling stressed about securing a job after university, or would like to gain some work experience. They offer courses, events (such as networking), meetings to discuss your options or goals, and a list of current vacancies which you may be interested in. They can also read over CVs/help you practice interview techniques, and offer a Live Chat feature weekdays between 9.30am and 4.30 pm for any general questions.
Religious and cultural communities
The MultiFaith Chaplaincy is a space for students to feel welcome, whatever their beliefs. They offer friendly chats, events and a non-judgmental community space, and can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Global Lounge hosts regular events and activities which celebrate the heritage and culture of students. They welcome the integration of both home and international students and aim to build communities and inspire social change. Events are free to attend and are regularly listed via their website, including their ‘language café’, a chance to learn and/or share a new language through friendly conversation.
University studies-related support
As part of your degree, you will have a Personal Tutor, who can be contacted in relation to anything related to your course. They should also provide advice about your programme, and get to know you as an individual. They will write references if needed for employment/further study, and are a signposting source for pastoral care (i.e. can redirect you to different support if needed, or listen to your academic concerns). If you do not feel supported by your personal tutor, you can contact another member of staff, speak to your course representative if you have one or use the Students’ Union advice services below.
The study skills team are part of Bristol Futures, which have a variety of academic and/or personal-development based activities to offer. Their study skills resources include 1:1 drop-ins and sometimes subject-specific workshops (e.g. support with coding). They also run workshops such as ‘Wordsmiths’, a peer support writing group, and the ‘Study Lounge’, which is an entire morning/afternoon dedicated to facilitating completing work, with the option to talk to study skills advisors and get feedback on your work. Bristol Futures also run personal development workshops and online courses. Study skills activities and Bristol Futures workshops are listed in the top right of Blackboard. Most of Bristol Futures is not subject-specific.
The Students’ Union and Peer Support
The Students’ Union exists throughout the UK and is a unified organisation which looks out for the welfare of students. When you join the University, you are automatically a part of the union. Amongst many other things, such as societies and events, they offer advice on subjects which you may feel uncomfortable disclosing to the University, and are designed to advocate for yourself as a student. Their Advice and Support page has 30 different support options you can ask about in a safe space. The general categories are: academic, crime, drugs, housing, money and wellbeing, with specific examples within each such as ‘LGBT+ Wellbeing’, ‘Academic Appeals’ and ‘All About Drugs – Drop-in Sessions’ – to name just three.
The SU also provides Peer Support through its Wellbeing Network. The Wellbeing Network was created to ensure that your wellbeing needs, as students, are being met by the policies, services and culture at university. Wellbeing Networks bring together students, societies, university staff and external partners to:
- Raise awareness of different aspects of student life that affect mental health and wellbeing;
- Organise events that are beneficial to wellbeing;
- Give voice to students with lived experience of the policies, services and culture at university;
- Campaign for better support for all students with differing needs.
The SU’s Just Ask service is a form you can submit to get independent and impartial advice about any issue to do with the University of Bristol:
Other resources, contacts and Apps
- TalkCampus: Download an app and chat anonymously to students around the world about struggles you may be going through
- Head Space: A recommended app which teaches you how to meditate (free with a Spotify Premium account or 2-week free trial)
- Shout: A free, confidential and anonymous text support service with trained volunteers
- SAM App: An app designed by the University of Bristol and UWE to help cope and understand anxiety
- Togetherall: A safe space to share and get help from others (use UoB email on sign up)
- Bristol Nightline A confidential, impartial and non-advisory service from University of Bristol students, for University of Bristol students
- Stay Alive An app designed for suicide prevention