Supporting students' mental health and wellbeing

An important part of being a student at university is maintaining mental health. Topics related to mental health, including study habits and self-care, can often come up as a part of academic mentoring.

It is a good idea for Academic Mentors to encourage their mentees to prioritise this aspect of their lives.

This section offers some practical advice you can offer students as well as the different areas of support that you can refer students to during periods of ill-health.

Student wellbeing

Studying can be stressful and time pressured. A lot of students will come to LSE with good methods for dealing with stress and keeping well, but a lot will also come with little experience of looking after themselves in this way. 

As an Academic Mentor, it's important to ask students how they feel overall and how they're doing. This doesn't mean you have to be ready to provide therapy or solutions to problems, just be ready to listen.

You may have some really helpful practical advice from your own life, or you may wish to refer a student on if you think they could do with some more support.

Some key messages you might want to share are:

  • Sleeping is important. Pulling regular all-nighters is not sustainable.
  • Eating well and trying to take some exercise will also help them to feel well. There's information online, or students could speak to a GP for more information on healthy eating.
  • Getting an LSE degree is hard, but it will feel a whole lot harder if you're regularly pulling all-nighters, drinking lots of caffeine and not getting any good food rather than planning a more sustainable study schedule. 
  • Good time management can really help with stress and feeling overwhelmed. LSE LIFE advisers can help with time-management skills.
  • Talking about problems will help students to understand them and in many cases, prevent them from growing. Services such as counselling may have a waiting list, but they are for everyone, no matter how 'trivial' a problem might seem. You don't have to have a mental health diagnosis to go and no one will tell your family, friends or future employers if you do go.
  • It's ok to not be living the 'perfect' life- sometimes we all skip meals, miss sleep or feel very anxious about upcoming events and that is normal. When these things are happening most days or preventing you from achieving every day tasks, then you may want to see a professional to learn new coping mechanisms.
  • It's not 'weak' to feel stressed or upset and it's not 'failing' to ask for help. None of us gets everything right first time.
  • You wouldn't have been selected for LSE if we didn't think you could succeed. You do have the skills to do so and are capable of doing well just like your peers.

If students would like to talk to someone about their wellbeing, or a particular issue is becoming debilitating for them, The Disability and Wellbeing Service, the LSESU Advice team and the counselling team can help.

You should try to reassure students that there is no such thing as a problem or concern that is too small or irrelevant.

Students do not have to be at crisis point to make use of these services.

There are also plenty of tips for staying well during studies online. Student Minds' are just one example.

What is mental health?

Around 1 in 4 adults in the UK will experience a mental health issue each year. Symptoms and severity vary.

Those experiencing mental health issues are not to blame for their conditions and should not feel ashamed.

They can't just 'snap out of it', but with good support and care, most do recover or develop good coping strategies. Some may never experience the condition again in their lives.

Students may feel that there is a stigma attached to mental ill-health, and therefore decide not to seek help.

It may be helpful to remind them that mental health is similar to physical health: most of the time, most of us are mentally and physically well.

For a number of complex reasons though, just as people may experience poor physical health, they can also become mentally unwell, experiencing any one of a number of different conditions.

Amongst students, the most common mental health conditions are depression, anxiety and eating disorders, but there are many different conditions that could affect people during study.

Students can learn more about the medical definitions of these conditions on the NHS website.

There's also more guidance here about what different conditions look like and some examples of self-care techniques.

Students' mental health

Due to the nature of the Academic Mentor-student relationship, students who trust you may decide to disclose what's happening to them before they speak to a doctor or counsellor.

Do offer to help with any potential issues related to your students’ studies and be supportive by listening if you can. You are not expected to, nor should you, take on the role of therapist as this would not be in the best interests of you or your student.

You can recommend that your student thinks about seeking support from a professional such as a GP or the LSE Counselling Services.

You can remind them that this is not because you don't care, but because GPs and counsellors are trained to help and can recommend alternative coping strategies, treatment options and support structures in a way that you're not qualified to do. 

If students have not yet registered with a GP, they can do so here. They should also be encouraged to speak to, and register with The Disability and Wellbeing Service who can advise on reasonable adjustments and consider appointments with a Mental Health Adviser if necessary.

Some students may feel uncomfortable visiting a GP or counsellor for fear of judgement.

You should try to reassure them that this is not the case. If students are concerned, reassure them that in the UK medical system, GPs and counsellors will not disclose medical visits to family, partners or teachers without their permission and in most cases, patients are not required to follow any treatment programme counsellors or doctors suggest.

There is a lot more advice and support on what to do when you're concerned about a student here. The Cause for Concern 2019/20 policy and guidelines from the DWS should also be consulted.

In an emergency, ALWAYS call 999.

Mental health and study

Some students may struggle to maintain their mental health while studying, especially at a highly competitive university like LSE. If this is the case, you may want to refer students to the many tips offered by Mind, the mental health charity, or the LSE wellbeing service, who have put together some guidance and examples of self-care techniques here.

Students will have many different ways of dealing with stress, from mindfulness (LSE LIFE offers regular mindfulness sessions) to regular exercise and communicating with friends or family. These are all excellent ways to relax, but sometimes, they might not always be enough on their own.

LSE offers a good deal of support for students. Specifically, The Disability and Wellbeing Service, the LSESU Advice team and the counselling team have experience and training to support students as they make decisions and will work with them to find the best course of action.

There's more information on the Disability and Wellbeing Service on the Supporting my students' study page.

Sometimes, in order to get better, students need to take time away from LSE to focus on their health. In this case, an interruption or deferral could be the best options. You can find further information about the processes here.


As an Academic Mentor, if a student discloses that they are struggling to you, you should listen and empathise. You should also make sure that you signpost them to further sources of support.

Students over the age of 18 have a right to have their information treated in confidence, unless they specifically state they want you to tell others, except where there is an immediate risk to themselves or others, or they've disclosed information you MUST disclose by law, such as that they are planning to commit a terrorist offence.

If a student lets you know they won't seek further help but you don't think they meet the criteria for breaking confidentiality, it's best to get their decision in writing. Sending a follow up email is also a good way of encouraging the student to consider further support and let them know that they can come back to you.

You can always contact Student Services or your Department Head, describing the situation but not giving the student's name for further advice. In any emergency, call 999.

What is the School's Fitness to Study Policy?

We understand that sometimes medical, psychological, behavioural or emotional problems, or other adverse circumstances, may affect students’ fitness to study.  Or indeed, that studying itself can occasionally contribute to a deterioration in students’ wellbeing and health. The School wants to do everything it can to help students in this position and to find ways to support them to continue studying wherever possible, or if not to help them arrange a suitable break from their studies.  LSE has developed a Fitness to Study policy to provide guidance on such circumstances.

The policy sets out a framework of support to study that is necessary to ensure fairness in terms of fitness to study for all students, and to ensure the LSE applies due process when considering and determining students’ fitness to study.  It is not a disciplinary process and should be seen fundamentally as a way of staff supporting students to ensure that they can wherever possible continue to study with appropriate levels of support in place to ensure their continued wellbeing.

*NEW* Resources on Consent from LSE EDI

We would like Academic Mentors to be aware of the slides and digital flyers regarding consent from the LSE EDI team, below:

Consent and EDI (ppt)

Flyer 1

Flyer 2

Flyer 3

We would also recommend that Academic Mentors are aware of Safe Contacts and the two-minute video from Consent Collective ‘The do’s and don’ts of hearing a disclosure’ which they can access here: There are many useful resources on the Consent Collective pages, including support for mental health during COVID. 

*NEW* LGBTQ+ Guide

Anyone interested in the resources, opportunities and guidance available for LGBTQ+ students at LSE may wish to refer to this LGBTQ+ Guide from the LSE Students' Union (produced with the assistance of LSE EDI).

If you have any further questions, please feel free to email