Factsheet: Students

This factsheet is available in a downloadable PDF here. 

Table of Contents

Student Life

Finding Help

Website Links

Suggested Information Leaflets

Suggested Support

Useful Websites

Student Life

The years of being a student can bring great benefits, in terms of freedom and life experience, and developing skills and knowledge. It can also be a time where new friendships are forged, and where transition to adulthood is made.

However, students also face a number of potential risk factors to their mental health. For many being at college or university is a period of transition, and this in itself brings risks to well-being. It can be a time when there are other worries present- money or debt concerns, health issues arising for the first time, or for some, being away from home. Conversely older students may struggle to juggle the demands of working, studying and family responsibilities. 

Colleges and universities are well aware of this and have a range of support available to help students. Whether you are thinking of going to college or university, but are feeling daunted, are already studying, or concerned about a family member or friend, there are services available to help. Sometimes knowing which service to access and when can be tricky. The best way is to speak to someone about your concerns as soon as possible, whether they are part of the university or college structure or are outside this (for example your GP). 

The most common practical difficulties faced by students are being on the wrong course, shortage of money, trouble with accommodation, or falling out with friends, family, or flatmates. Being away from home, or wanting to leave home can also lead to difficulties. Any of these can lead to depression or anxiety, even if it’s never happened before. 

International students, mature students and those from minority ethnic groups can have more pressures and need more support at times. And some students develop a serious mental illness while at college or university, or already have a mental illness before enrolling on a course, and find that the college or university setting exacerbates the issue. It’s important to remember that we all need support with our mental health from time to time, and that this is why there are services available.

Finding Help

There is an increasing amount of interest in the promotion of mental health of students both within Lothian and across Scotland currently. NUS Scotland have established a three year mental health project, to campaign for better mental wellbeing for students and reduce stigma for students experiencing difficulties. There are ways to participate in this project, either within your college or university or with the Scottish project.

In Lothian, the 12S project is establishing a network for all those in colleges and universities who are interested in mental health and wellbeing in this setting to share information, and develop support and capacity in each setting. Please contact Rachel King at [email protected] if you are interested in joining this network.

Website Links

Each college and university has staff to support students, whether academic or personal.
Please click on the links to each of the main institutions information:

NUS Scotland has also produced an online resource, click here for more details.

Suggested Information Leaflets

Suggested Support

Stress Control Classes– these are organised through Health in Mind, and can be accessed by anyone in Lothian.

Stress Control is a 6-week evening class, free to attend, focusing on understanding what stress is, how it affects us and how we can manage it. At any one time, it is believed 1 in 5 of us suffer from stress and the sources of stress are widespread. During the course, we explore how stress affects how we think, how our body feels, what we do and our sleep pattern. The course is educational and each session is complimented with a summary handout and relaxation materials.

To book a place contacton 0131 243 0106 or [email protected]

Useful Websites

NUS Scotland

They are developing part of their website around information and sharing of stories for students. It has information on mental health for everyone, and for those experiencing mental health problems.

Living life to the Full

Living Life to the Full is a life skills course which teaches you to overcome stress and anxiety, build confidence; tackle difficult situations; understand why we feel as we do; solve problems; relax; overcome reduced activity; change unhelpful thinking; recognise helpful and unhelpful behaviour; and live healthily.

Students Against Depression

Gives information, real stories, and shared experience for any student experiencing mental health problems.

Depression Alliance Scotland

Runs some lifeskills courses through their Look OK, Feel Crap campaign with colleges and universities in Lothian.

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Related Services

Below are links to Services in the Edspace database that may be of interest:

External websites related to Students

These web sites may be useful. Please note that we are not responsible for external sites; if you find any broken links or inappropriate content please report it to the site administrators using the feedback page.

  • Saneline
    Saneline is a national mental health helpline providing emotional support and information. Anyone affected by mental illness can use this line, including carers and concerned friends or family. The helpline number is 0300 304 7000. The Helpline is open outside of normal office hours, from 4.30pm - 10.30pm pm every day of the year. The person who answers the phone will be empathetic and non-judgemental, providing a space for you to talk about any aspect of your mental health, or the mental health of someone you care about. You can get emotional support to address your individual experience, as well as help to explore options and action.
  • CruseYouth Line
    CruseYouth Line National charity set up to offer free, confidential help to bereaved people. Phone: (1) 0870 167 1677 (2) 0808 808 1677 Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-2pm 3pm-9pm - 7 days. *local rates apply
  • Action on Depression

    Action on Depression (formerly Depression Alliance Scotland) is the only national mental health charity in Scotland working for people affected by depression.


    We provide information and support for anyone with depression and their friends and family and campaign to raise awareness and understanding of depression in Scotland and to improve services for people with depression.

  • No Panic

    No Panic aims to offer relief and rehabilitation to people suffering from anxiety disorders, for example Panic, Phobias and Obsessive/Complusive Disorders.

  • Rethink
    Rethink Formerly called the National Schizophrenia Fellowship. Rethink offer support, advice and information to those suffering from a mental illness or their carers. Phone: 08457 08 90 34 Hours: Mon-Fri 10am - 3pm
  • Samaritans
    Samaritans provides confidential emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide. You don't have to be suicidal to call us. We are here for you if you're worried about something, feel upset or confused, or you just want to talk to someone.
  • Breathing Space
    Breathing Space is a confidential helpline for anyone in Scotland experiencing mental ill  health. It was launched in 2002, and became a national phoneline in 2004. Breathing Space is funded by the Scottish Government's Mental Health Unit. The service is operationally managed by NHS 24 and delivered from NHS 24 contact centres in Clydebank, Cardonald and South Queensferry. Breathing Space is a COSCA (Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland) recognised counselling skills organisation. 
  • LGBT Youth
    If you are a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender young person living in Scotland, www.lgbtyouth.org.uk is your space, so pull up a chair, relax and join in. Make this a meeting place of ideas and the action will follow.
  • Cruse Scotland
    Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland is a registered charity which offers free bereavement care and support to people who have experienced the loss of someone close.
  • Brook
    Brook Advisory Centres - commonly known just as Brook - is the only national voluntary sector provider of free and confidential sexual health advice and services specifically for young people under 25. Brook is a registered charity, and has 40 years' experience of providing professional advice through specially trained doctors, nurses, counsellors, and outreach and information workers to over 200,000 young people each year.
  • BEAT – Beating Eating Disorders
    Information and help on all aspects of eating disorders, including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, binge eating disorder and related eating disorders.
  • MIND
    Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. We work to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress
  • NHS24
    NHS24 is an online and telephone based service, offering comprehensive health information to people in Scotland. If you are ill and your usual NHS service / GP is closed, call NHS 24 free on 111. However, if you think someone’s life is in danger and you need an ambulance, always dial 999. When you call NHS 24, you will be asked about your location and your reason for contacting the service. This will be used to direct your call to a suitable health professional, such as a nurse, pharmacist or dental nurse. They will talk to you about your symptoms and tell you what care they think you need. They might suggest that you treat yourself at home, that you see a doctor or another health professional or, in some cases, they might call an ambulance for you.  NHS 24 also provides a number of useful tools to help you manage your health and find health services in your area through the NHS inform website. On the NHS inform website you can access:
    • information on illnesses and conditions, healthy living, tests and treatments and care, support and rights
    • a self-help guide that allows symptoms to be checked against causes and conditions
    • a directory of local health services including pharmacies, GP's and hospitals
  • Counselling Directory
    Counselling Directory is a searchable database of therapists offering a range of counselling and therapy services. 
  • Depression in Teenagers
    Interactive site on depression from the Young Peoples Unit in Edinburgh.
  • Stress and Anxiety in Teenagers
    Interactive site on stress and anxiety from the Young Peoples Unit in Edinburgh
  • Know the score
    Know the score information line for the general public in Scotland providing facts about drugs and their effects Phone: 0800 587 5879 Hours: Seven days a week 24 hours a day www.knowthescore.info/

Phonelines Related to Students

  • Breathing Space

    0800 83 85 87

    A free, confidential phone line you can call when you're feeling down. They also have an excellent website which has loads of information and a self-help toolkit.

  • The Samaritans

    08457 90 90 90

    The Samaritans will not try to give you advice, judge you or tell you what to do, they will just listen and support you. They are there for anyone, especially those who are suicidal or in crisis.


    0845 767 8000

    A telephone helpline offering practical information, crisis care and emotional support to anybody affected by mental health problems. 0845 767 8000 (charged at local rates) 1pm to 11pm every day www.sane.org.uk

  • CruseYouth Line

    0870 167 1677

    CruseYouth Line National charity set up to offer free, confidential help to bereaved people. Phone: (1) 0870 167 1677 (2) 0808 808 1677 Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-2pm 3pm-9pm - 7 days. *local rates apply

  • No Panic

    0808 808 0545

    No Panic Helps people who suffer from Panic Attacks, Phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and other related anxiety disorders including those people who are trying to give up Tranquillisers. Also provides info in ethnic languages. Phone: 0808 808 0545 Hours: 10-10pm - every day of the year - answer phone thereafter

  • Know the score

    0800 587 5879

    Know the score information line for the general public in Scotland providing facts about drugs and their effects Phone: 0800 587 5879 Hours: Seven days a week 24 hours a day www.knowthescore.info/

  • Drinkline

    0800 917 8282

    Drinkline Offers confidential information and advice about drinking and local contacts. Phone: 0800 917 8282 Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-11pm


    0800 77 66 00

    TALK TO FRANK (National Drugs Helpline) For information and advice on all aspects of drug misuse and referrals to local agencies. The helpline operated 24 hours round the clock. www.talktofrank.com The helpline is also available on request on 0800 917 6650 in the following languages: Bengali between 6-10pm every Monday Urdu between 6-10pm every Tuesday Hindi between 6-10pm every Friday Punjabi between 6-10pm every Saturday Cantonese between 6-10pm every Sunday Phone: 0800 77 66 00 Hours: 24 hours - 365 days a year. Please note that a range of different languages are catered for at set opening times.

  • Edinburgh Crisis Centre

    0808 801 0414

    Edinburgh Crisis Centre supports people in crisis and their carers. Their free phone number is 08088010414
    Open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

  • NHS24


    NHS 24, medical helpline

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