Find out how to look after your mental health and check the help available if you need support.
Looking after your wellbeing
Just like physical health, there are things you can do to look after your mental health and wellbeing, even when you’re not experiencing difficulties.
Good mental wellbeing is about having feelings of contentment and enjoyment, but it also includes things like:
- feeling relatively confident in yourself and having positive self-esteem
- building and maintaining good relationships with others
- feel engaged with the world around you.
Our mental health is on a spectrum between mentally well and mentally ill. Everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum. You can have a diagnosed mental health condition, but still have good mental health. Qualified professionals use standardised measures to diagnose mental illness, disorders or conditions which arise from organic, genetic, psychological or behavioural factors.
Why it’s important
Our mental wellbeing affects how we feel about all areas of life. Looking after it can really improve the way we feel every day. This can be really helpful at times when we’re not feeling our best, but it’s also important to make sure we look after ourselves during the good times.
Ways to look after your mental health
There are lots of ways we can look after our mental health and wellbeing. Different things work for different people but there are some basics to try, starting with the five ways to wellbeing:
- spend time with others – connecting with other people is great for our wellbeing; it can give us a sense of belonging, help to create a support network, and give us people to talk to and have fun with
- keep active – because physical activity has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and improve mood, regularly exercising is a great way to look after our wellbeing and exercising outside is especially good
- keep learning – learning new skills can boost confidence, build a sense of purpose, and help you to connect with others. Although you’ll be learning lots on your course of study, it’s great to gain new skills through trying a new hobby as this gives you a chance to relax and use a different part of your brain. You could try joining one of the Students’ Union societies
- give to others – acts of kindness and giving create positive feelings, a sense of purpose and self–worth. You don’t need to make grand gestures; small acts of kindness such as making a friend a cup of tea, asking someone how their day is going, or even volunteering can all have a positive impact on your own wellbeing
- take notice – paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing; this includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.
You can also look after your mental and emotional wellbeing by:
- eating and sleeping well, staying hydrated and drinking sensibly
- managing your time effectively and learning key study skills
- tracking your moods to help you work out what positively and negatively affects your mental wellbeing; then you can take steps to change or prepare for situations that have a negative effect
- enjoying downtime, relaxing, and having some fun.
Where to get help
If you need help or you’re not coping, don’t hesitate to ask for support – we are here to help.
If you or someone you know has reached crisis point and is at risk of harm or harm from/to others, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
There are services on campus available to support you, if you or someone needs help with their mental health and wellbeing.
The Student Centre offers help and advice through email, telephone, and pre-booked appointments. A meeting with a Student Life Advisor can address both practical and emotional issues and will provide support, advice and space for reflection.
The University has a free and confidential short-term therapy service which offers one to one therapy and psycho-educative workshops for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Residential life team
If you live on campus, you may want to talk to the Residential life team about your wellbeing or attend one of their social gatherings which are part of the Residential Life Programme. This programme of events is co-created with the Residential Life Connectors (students) and is aimed at improving your wellbeing and is a great way to make friends.
Tea and Talk peer support sessions
The Tea and Talk Peer Support Network offers an informal space for Sussex students to talk and be listened to, as well as an opportunity to find out about other sources of support. The sessions are run by friendly trained Sussex students, and you can expect free tea, biscuits and mindful activities.
Any Sussex student can come along and you can talk about anything. Sessions take place in the Student Centre (Woodland 1) on Wednesdays from 1pm to 3pm during the term.
Our facilitators are trained to offer listening support but are not mental health experts or counsellors. They’ll talk with you about what’s on your mind, and can also let you know about other useful services.
To be confidentially matched with a Tea and Talk facilitator, email the service at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d prefer to talk to a student of a specific gender, then just ask.
Tea and Talk Students are supported by staff from the Directorate for Student Experience. Volunteers will ask for your consent before disclosing personal data to staff unless it is necessary to protect your or another person’s vital interests. Read the privacy notice for the Directorate for Student Experience.
If you have questions about faith and spirituality, or want a change of scene, you can visit our Chaplaincy based in the Meeting House.
If you have a mental health concern, your doctor can talk to you about how you feel, may prescribe you medication, or refer you to a mental health specialist.
Make sure you register with a GP when you start at Sussex as a student.
You can also contact the Sussex Mental Healthline on 08000 309500, Staying well in Brighton or the Brighton and Hove Wellbeing Service (NHS) if you’re experiencing mental heath challenges or emotional difficulties.
Other sources of support include:
- Brighton, Hove and District Samaritans at Dubarry House, Newtown Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 6AE or call 01273 772277 (local phone rates) or freephone 11612324
- MindOut – a local mental health service run by and for LGBTQ+ people with experience of mental health issues
- Samaritans offers a safe place for you to talk about whatever’s getting to you
- SANE is a UK mental health charity who run a national, out-of-hours mental health helpline offering specialist emotional support and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers
- Shout 85258 is a free, confidential, anonymous text support service. You can text from wherever you are in the UK
- Hopeline UK is a confidential support and advice service for under-35s who are experiencing thoughts of suicide or anyone concerned that a young person could be thinking about suicide
- Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem
- Mental Health Foundation is the UK’s charity for everyone’s mental health.
Long-term mental health conditions
If you have a diagnosed long-term mental health condition such as depression or a bipolar disorder, you should make an appointment with a member of our disability support team, who will:
- talk to you in confidence about any support requirements you may have
- liaise with academic staff over teaching and examination arrangements
- liaise with your GP (doctor), counsellor or members of your healthcare team if necessary
- liaise with Housing Services over accommodation needs
- provide assistance with applying for the Disabled Students’ Allowance.
There are several resources you can use to take care of yourself.
- Togetherall – a virtual community
Togetherall uses the positive effects of healthy social networks in its community where people share with, and support one another anonymously.
It provides a proven way to get better together through peer to peer, anonymous conversation.
The service is moderated 24/7 by trained practitioners who keep members safe, and facilitate the process of people helping people in clinically managed online spaces.
The self-guided group and individual courses cover mental health and lifestyle topics. Togetherall also has a library of useful articles and resources, including helpful tests and features to track progress.
One-on-one theraphy is delivered through the web appointments available 7am-11pm, via audio, instant messaging and video (available only in the UK).
- Wellbeing reading list
The University of Sussex library has a wellbeing reading list, which you can borrow for free.
You can download:
- Headspace makes practicing mindfulness easier. You can sign up for free on their Take 10 programme – just 10 minutes a day for 10 days.
- Breathe – a mindfulness app that helps you stay calm and battle anxiety by sending you gentle deep breathing reminders throughout the day.
- Emoodji – an app created by Mind, designed specifically for students. University life can have its ups and downs, but Emoodji is there throughout. A fun way of looking after yourself, sharing with friends and supporting each other.
- Happify – an app aimed at developing skills in order to boost emotional wellbeing.
- Other websites
Student Space is a free resource for all students, providing dedicated support services by phone, text, email and web chat. It offers one-to-one support and links to the services and support available for you at Sussex.
Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity. Their website features lots of useful resources on a variety of topics that effect student life.
The Wellbeing Thesis supports students through their postgraduate research journey. The website provides information to improve your mental health and help you navigate the ups and downs of your postgraduate research.
Blurt contains resources to help you understand more about depression and some lifestyle changes which may help.
Learn cognitive behavioural therapy skills for preventing and coping with depression with MoodGYM, for free.
- Self-help guides
View a series of self-help guides addressing common issues such as abuse, anxiety, panic, depression and low moods.