Students Supporting Students

Students Supporting Students

Students may find themselves in the role of invisible carers, providing a considerable level of informal support to a fellow student.

It is very important for helpers, to remain aware of their own needs and limitations and to get help for themselves. The Mental Health Advisers can offer support and advice.

Being there for someone else is part of our humanity and helps to make the world a better place, but supporting another person can be emotionally exhausting and frustrating, and may cause anxiety, leading to resentment and anger.

Follow these 5 steps to maintain your own well being and make it easier to support others:

1.  Be realistic about what you can offer.

2.  Remember your responsibility to look after yourself. Don’t feel you have to prove what a good friend you are by always putting your friend’s needs ahead of your own.

3.  Help build a support network. It is not a good idea for you to be your friend’s sole or main source of support. The burden could be too great for you, and you could also lose objectivity. Make it clear to your friend that it is important he or she has others to turn to as well, and that you have someone to confer with when needed.

4.  Encourage your friend to seek professional help. It may help to explore what is getting in the way of seeking help, and to help overcome those barriers.  For example:

  • If they think going to a doctor or counsellor as a sign of weakness, encourage them to see that seeking professional help represents taking responsibility for their own well being.
  • If they worry that having counselling makes them ‘abnormal’, try to normalise it for them. Tell your friend if you, or others close to you, have been helped by counselling.
  • If they don’t think it will be helpful, encourage them to keep an open mind:  they won’t lose anything by going for an exploratory session with a counsellor, and it might make a difference.
  • If they are scared to contact anyone for help, you could offer to stay with them while they phone their GP or the counselling service. They may also appreciate the offer to walk with them to their appointment.

5.  Get some help for yourself—when you are in a difficult situation and unsure how to manage it, having someone to think with can make all the difference.

The Mental Health Advisers and Student Counselling Service offer drop-in support sessions for students who are supporting other students. If you are worried about the mental health of a fellow-student and would like to talk to someone in confidence, please contact or