Get help with mental health

Updated on 23 January 2023

Around one in four people will experience a mental health difficulty at some point, so it's possible that some students and staff will experience this while at university

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In an emergency

If you or someone you know has immediate plans to end their life, call 999 and request an ambulance

Mental health issues vary hugely from person to person so what works for someone else may not work for you. You may be able to help yourself through a change in behaviour, or it may be helpful to get support from a trained professional.

Things you can do to help yourself

Look after the essentials

Sometimes changes in physical health can manifest themselves mentally. Think about what you could do to improve your physical health which can improve your concentration, motivation, memory, and energy:

  • Food - whether eating too much, not enough, too late at night, or a poor diet
  • Drinking - this doesn't just mean too much alcohol, too little water can also be a problem
  • Sleep - if you are staying up late and sleeping half the day, or sleeping at times that don't work well for you, you will function less well overall and feel sluggish
  • Exercise - physical activity is known to have a positive effect on mental health. If you are able to exercise, we have a city campus gym, exercise classes, and swimming pool at the Institute of Sports and Exercise. There are also sport teams you can join through the Sports Union. If you are unable to exercise, or find it difficult, just going for a walk can help improve mental health.

See also: What uni years taught me about diet and mental wellbeing - BBC

Feeling Good app

You can try using this audio app to support your mental wellbeing, to calm your mind, and to develop a positive mindset. Dundee students and staff get free access to the full programme using the referral codes (login required).

Try to improve your work/life balance

Just because the library may be open all night, you don’t need to be studying all night too. Working non-stop can work against you rather than improving your productivity.

Instead, work out a set number of hours to study, and then stop for the day. You may find that other activities can help take your mind off study, or whatever else may be worrying you. Then when you return to it you may find it easier to focus.

Clubs and societies

We have over 200 student-led societies, full of people sharing the same interests which can help with making friends. They are a perfect break from the lectures-library-home pattern of student life. You can make new friends, and gain those much-desired skills for your future employment.

If you would like help to join a society, to start exercising or get involved in volunteering, you can contact the University’s SWITCH initiative. There are also events for students and staff regularly promoted through email and social media.

If your studies are being affected

Your Adviser of Studies can help if you are worried your mental health is affecting your ability to study. They will be able to give advice and put you in contact with others in the University who can help. This can include:

  • Stay on Course - this service provides support for students who may be at risk of failing or dropping out of their course. A member of the Student Support Team will work with you to come up with a plan for you to get back on track.
  • Disability Services – provide a range of services for students experiencing mental health difficulties and can arrange adjustments and other support for your studies.
  • Disability Support Officers - these are members of staff in schools and departments who assist their colleagues to support the needs of disabled students in their department.
  • Academic Skills Centre – offer a range of services and resources to support students to develop and enhance their academic skills.
  • Doctoral Academy – provide resources, support, and advice for postgraduate researchers.

Talk to someone at the University

It can be helpful to talk to someone rather than ignore the situation and hope that it will go away. Getting help earlier means you will feel better sooner, with less disruption to your studies, work and life.

Speak to other students

  • Peer Connections is a welcoming, buddying and mentoring scheme to help all students settle into University life, show them around, meet, mix, and share information and experience with other students.
  • The Student Support Team in Residences can help with welfare issues that may be affecting your mental health in University accommodation.

Speak to Student Services

If you'd prefer to speak to a member of staff and you’re not sure who to contact, the Enquiry Centre can often answer your questions right away or direct you to other Student Services who can provide specialist help for students and staff, including:

  • University Health Service - with their own doctor and mental health nurses who can offer experienced, professional advice on the health of students and staff
  • University Counselling Service - who can help you to explore your feelings and relationships more effectively
  • Disability Services – who can provide confidential advice and support with mental health difficulties, including arranging Mental Health Mentoring

If you are a Medicine student based at Ninewells campus you can also speak to our Medical Student Support team.


Staff can also access support with mental health through Access to Work’s Mental Health Support Service providers:

Talk to other people

Friends and family

Friends and family know you well and can be really helpful and provide support when you are feeling low.

Your doctor

Your local doctor (GP) has access to your personal medical history and this helps give them an understanding of your personal situation. They can also refer you to other specialist services if you need this.

Outside of office hours, you can phone NHS 24 who will assess you and decide if it is an emergency or urgent enough to warrant immediate medical assessment. Either way, they will advise you of what to do next.

Multi-faith Chaplains

Chaplains from different faith traditions serve the whole University Community. As well as helping people to practice their faith and encouraging spiritual well-being, they are also a resource for any student or member of staff to speak to in confidence about issues that concern them, whether you are religious or not.

Homesickness or culture shock for international students

Home hospitality schemes are where trusted people living in Dundee can extend a warm welcome to students and invite them into their homes. This can let you experience local family life, enjoy British food, and make lasting friendships. Local families also value the chance to meet you and learn more about your country and culture.

External organisations who can help

  • The Samaritans are a confidential, free, 24 hour helpline, where there is always someone available to talk and listen
  • Breathing Space is a confidential, free helpline for people in Scotland experiencing low mood, depression and anxiety
  • Living Life Guided Self Help is a confidential telephone service from NHS 24 based on a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach
  • There are a number of charities and agencies offering counselling services in Dundee, including Insight Counselling

Workshops and training

Stress buster workshops

Stressbuster sessions are short practical sessions of up to one hour that include work on stress management using relaxation, breathing and visualisation techniques.

They are centred on calming down, reducing anxiety, practically dealing with panicky feelings, mental rehearsal, helping to remain calm and focussed during exams or presentations and using stress busting techniques as a life skill.

Academic skills and procrastination workshops

Academic Skills Team run a range of workshops on improving your study skills. These can help if you are finding the transition to Higher Education from school, or another country, difficult.

Other mental health training in the University

Health related training for students or staff

University staff can also access mental health training through Organisational and Professional Development

For Postgraduate Researchers

The Doctoral Academy team run reconnection events, regular Stay Well Cafe activities, and offer community event funding for wellbeing activities. There is also a PGR Sharepoint site with videos, resources, and information that can help you with transitions into and out of your research degree and keep you on course.

Guides from external organisations

While there are thousands of pages of advice online, two sources of readable and trustworthy advice on mental health are:

Guide category Staff support