At #TeamMDX, we encourage you to look after your health proactively by engaging in self-care to look after your wellbeing. According to the World Health Organisation, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
To keep yourself healthy through your time at university then, you need to develop healthy self-care routines. Self-care can mean different things to different people.
Your wellbeing at university is broadly affected by a number of factors:
To keep yourself healthy through your time at university then, you need to develop healthy self-care routines. Self-care can mean different things to different people.
When we talk about self-care then, you may find the information on these pages useful, or you may wish to seek support with other areas not explicitly mentioned on this page, such as financial support and support through MDXworks, which you can find elsewhere on UniHub. All areas of our health and wellbeing are related, so while you will find information in different categories on this page, this is for readability and is not set in stone.
The Student Health Guide gives a great introduction to keeping well as well as giving you information on MDX and MDXSU support available to keep you thriving.
A webinar on settling in
Watch this webinar with Student Wellbeing Coordinator, Vanessa, and MDX student and SLA Luana on settling in and making connections with #TeamMDX.
A webinar on time management
If you are finding it hard to balance multiple responsibilities, you are not alone! Watch this webinar with Student Wellbeing Coordinator Vanessa and MDX postgraduate student and communications team member Evana on how to manage effectively manage your time and hear their top tips:
A weekly event to help you to feel more comfortable meeting people online.
Life Skills Series: Join an online community with UniHelp. These days, we are all learning how to make connections with people virtually. This is an important life skill as virtual meetings and remote work are likely to be more widely accepted moving forwards. We know it can be hard to adjust to this way of studying and working, so you are invited to come along for a chat to meet new friends and staff from MDXSU, UniHelp and other departments. You are also welcome to just come along for some company, a chat and to get used to making connections with people online. There will be no obligation to turn cameras on or chat if you don’t want to – this will be a safe place and you can contribute as much or as little as you like. Find the session on events.
A webinar on keeping well
Watch this webinar with Student Wellbeing Coordinator, Vanessa, and MDX student and MDX Ambassador Abdelrahman on keeping well as a new student arriving to Middlesex.
A webinar on loneliness
It’s normal to feel lonely sometimes. Watch this 45 second clip on loneliness, then watch this longer webinar with Student Wellbeing Coordinator Vanessa and MDX postgraduate student and communications team member Evana on how to manage loneliness at university.
Wellbeing apps and platforms
There are a number of wellbeing apps and platforms that MDX has invested in to support you to look after your wellbeing.
Watch this webinar for a summary of the platforms available to you with Student Wellbeing Coordinator Vanessa and MDX student and SLA Luana
You have free and exclusive access to Fika, a mental fitness app. It's designed to be used for a few minutes each day to maintain and develop your mental fitness skills: confidence, positivity, focus, connection, meaning, motivation and stress management.
You also have exclusively free access to Togetherall, an online support platform that gives you the opportunity to connect emotionally and anonymously with others, in a safe forum with 24/7 moderation by trained professionals. Togetherall is great if you want a ‘deeper dive’ into your mental health and wellbeing.
UNIHEADS is a 20 minute online mental health training course. You’ll learn how to look after yourself, how to support a friend, and how to stay well in light of COVID-19.
Miindset is an app which has been made free for university students. It is designed to help you manage your mental health and wellbeing by giving you tailored mental health and wellbeing content thanks to the Miindset Wellness Checker and clever AI. You can take your personalised support with you anywhere, with zero wait time, whenever you need it. Miindset is on a mission to change mental health and wellbeing provision amongst the global student population.’
All these apps and platforms can be used independently to help you to stay feeling at your best through your time at MDX, or in conjunction with formal therapeutic support. Find out more about the platforms and how to access them.
I want to register with a GP/doctor
We recommend registering with a General Practitioner (GP) or doctor as soon as you arrive at Middlesex or the UK. It's important not to wait before you're ill to do this. GPs are often the first point of contact and can refer you to more specialist care should you need it. If you are moving from another GP in England, your new GP should have access to your previous health records. The NHS has more information on getting medical care as a student. If you are an international student, visit the international students and healthcare page.
The Uni Doctor
The Uni Doctor are located in Wembley and provide:
Watch this webinar with Student Wellbeing Coordinator, Vanessa, and Lead Partner GP, Arun Notaney, from The Uni Doctor. They answer your questions on how you can register for a GP, why it’s so important, what vaccinations you should make sure you’re up to date with, what kinds of things your GP can support you with, and how to register for The Uni Doctor.
You don’t have to register with The Uni Doctor, though. You might like to register with a GP that’s closer to where you live in London.
You need advice and over-the-counter treatments for minor ailments like aches and pains, coughs and colds, infections and viruses, allergies, minor injuries, skin conditions and more, saving a visit to the doctor’s surgery.
There’s no need for an appointment.
Opening hours tend to be Monday – Friday but this may vary.
Your GP should be your first point of contact for health issues that you can’t treat yourself with the help of your local pharmacy or information on NHS.uk.
Opening hours tend to be Monday-Friday but this may vary.
You need medical help fast but it's not a 999 emergency.
You think you need to go to A&E or need another NHS urgent care service. You don't know who to call or you don't have a GP to call. You need health information or reassurance about what to do next.
Opening hours: 24/7, 365
An A&E department (also known as emergency department or casualty) deals with genuine life-threatening emergencies. A&E is not an alternative to a GP appointment.
Opening hours: 24/7,
Urgent care centres can provide you with urgent medical attention for injuries that are not life threatening. You can simply turn up at an urgent care centre without an appointment, although you may have to wait.
For immediate, life-threatening emergencies and where you cannot go to A&E yourself.
Opening hours: 24/7, 365
Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals and are able to give you advice and recommend treatments on minor ailments such as colds, coughs and sprains. You do not need to register or book an appointment to receive treatment at a pharmacy and they are often open later in the day than GP practices.
If your Pharmacist is not able to support you, they will signpost you to your GP.
The closest Pharmacy to our campus is:
C K Pharmacy, 9 Church Road
Tel: 020 8203 1007
Hours: 9.00am to 7.00pm weekdays | 9.00am to 2.00pm Saturdays | Closed on Sundays.
I want to know more about paying for NHS services
If you are a home student and over the age of 18, you will usually need to pay towards the cost of prescriptions, dental care, eye care and wigs and fabric supports.
If you are on a low income, take this short quiz to see if you could be entitled to support with paying for NHS costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme. If you think that you are entitled to support, you will need to fill in a HC1 form and post this to the NHS. You will then be advised about whether you can apply for full (a HC2 form) or partial (HC3) support. You can find out more on the NHS Low Income Scheme web page. If English is not your first language, the NHS offer an interpreter service to support you to fill in the forms.
If you need regular prescriptions, it may be more cost effective for you to obtain a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) which you can do online.
If you are eligible for certain benefits you may also be eligible for free NHS treatment (including dental treatment). Find out more on the Free NHS dental treatment webpage.
I am an international student and I'm not sure what healthcare I'm entitled to
As an international student, you will only be able to register with an NHS practice if you are enrolled on a full-time course that lasts for more than six months. If your country does not offer reciprocated treatment with the UK, you should take out insurance.
If you're able to, it's important that you register with a GP as soon as you can after arriving in the UK. Your new GP will process your registration and can provide you with an NHS number which you will need to have hospital treatment or if you need to be referred to a specialist.
We recommend that your inform your home doctor that you are moving to the UK and to ask if you need any vaccinations. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, please ask your home doctor to write a letter explaining these along with any medication you are receiving (this could include a copy of your prescription with English translation if required).
You can pass this information to your new GP in the UK as this will help to ensure continuity in your treatment. To find out about accessing healthcare as an international student, find out what you need to do before arriving in the UK.
I am a UK student but need to travel to Europe – what healthcare am I entitled to?
You should take out medical insurance to cover the duration of your visit/stay. If you have an EHIC, it will be valid until the expiry date on the card. Once it expires, you’ll need to apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) to replace it. This lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free.
GHIC and EHIC do not replace travel insurance. You can use a GHIC or an EHIC if you’re travelling to an EU country.
You cannot use a GHIC or an existing EHIC in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. You’ll need travel insurance with healthcare cover.
If you're not sure what health service you need, download the Ask NHS app (available on Android and Apple) to check your symptoms and get guidance on the best service for you. Look at our guide below for which healthcare service to use when.
Studies have shown that being physically active not only helps to maintain a healthy weight, lowers blood pressure and supports normal muscle and bone strength, but also helps mental health in many ways including improved mood, reduced stress, increased self-esteem, prevention/management of depression and anxiety.
Making sure you're keeping yourself physically healthy is an important part of your wellbeing. Public Health England have some important information on staying physically well as a student in this PHE Fact sheet.
There are many different ways you can look to improve your physical health. Here are a few of our tips:
Life Skills Series: stress management through yoga
What our students have to say about the sessions:
Angela Sorensen, PhD student:
''I first started doing the Yoga for Mental Wellbeing with Jo after seeing a flier for it at uni. My first session was in-person and it brought so much physical and mental relief that I was determined to make it part of my regular routine. And then the pandemic hit. Everything switched to online; a challenge but one surmountable with the right support. For almost the past year I have kept up the practice largely in part to Jo's excellent teaching abilities.
As a beginner in yoga, I've found this class very accessible with a focus on proper technique and gentle encouragement. It's been my saving grace mentally and physically. Not only has it helped me find some mental calming and clarity, but Jo's teaching has inspired me to keep up the practice. I now find myself practicing yoga 1-2 times a week outside of our regular class schedule. Practicing yoga with Jo has been the thing I look forward to each week; a huge highlight for me in these otherwise challenging times''
Aleksandra Peczek, BSc Nutrition with Foundation Year:
I found Joanna’s yoga classes on one of the MDX student groups and thought it could be a nice way to incorporate some physical activity into the lockdown routine. It turned out to be a fantastic experience. After spending all days sitting in front of the computer it’s a great way to relax, stretch, take a break from the screens, and give yourself a good start to a productive day.
I’m an absolute newbie to yoga, but Joanna is very attentive and explains all poses in detail so no need to be ashamed.
Free sports activities from MDX
Every week sports offer a timetable of free virtual activities for you to tap into. Find out more https://unihub.mdx.ac.uk/student-life/sport/exercise-classes
Being away from home can be the perfect opportunity to indulge in new foods and feed your sweet tooth. But just like getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet can make a world of difference to your studies and to your mood. Research shows that what we eat has a direct impact on not only brain function and your mood. Here are 5 ways the food you eat affects your brain
"Studies have compared “traditional” diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to a typical “Western” diet and have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet. Scientists account for this difference because these traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They are also void of processed and refined foods and sugars, which are staples of the “Western” dietary pattern."
Aside from your health, it's a lot more cost effective to cook from scratch than it is to buy ready meals or eat out. And make sure you check and compare own brands to branded food items because in blind taste tests, people often can't taste the difference. If you're on the hunt for some easy and healthy recipes and advice, Nourished Life and Eat Well have some good pointers.
If you are looking for recipe ideas, check out some brain-boosting meal ideas at Tesco’s students recipes, BBC’s student recipes, and Buzzfeed’s roundup of 19 recipes you can make in a microwave. Juggling caring responsibilities, work and study and find it tricky to find the time to cook? Why not try meal prepping? Here are some starting points:
The NHS has also launched Better Health – a programme with tools and support to help you reach your health goals. The NHS also offers Eat Well – a selection of resources to help you to develop healthy eating habits.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one has an unhealthy attitude towards food, check out NHS resources and BEAT, an eating disorder charity, and book an appointment with your GP to discuss support available. Don’t forget about support available through the Counselling and Mental Health team, too.
Your sexual health is another vital part of your wellbeing and is nothing to be embarrassed about. Just like your physical and mental health, you can take care of it through self awareness and taking precautions. However, if you're worried or if something has happened that you did not give consent for, there's plenty of support for you.
If you are sexually active, consider the need to:
- Protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you are sexually active, it's a good idea to be tested regularly for STIs. You can get tested for STIs at Sexual Health Clinics and certain pharmacies. They can also provide information and advice on sex, contraception and personal relationships.
- Use contraception to protect yourself from STIs and unplanned pregnancy (if applicable). Using contraception is the best way to protect against pregnancy although they are not 100% effective so make sure you understand how your particular one works.
- Develop confidence to talk about sexual health with your partner and GP
Sexual health services
You can get support and information regarding sexual health from:
- Your doctor (GP) can provide information and free contraception and STI checks
- Your local sexual health clinics such as Sexual Health London or Brook can provide information and free contraception and STI checks
- Sexwise – honest advice about contraception, pregnancy, STIs and pleasure
- The NHS – their sexual health pages provide information on general sexual health and STIs
- The Barnet Gov website has some really good resources and advice. There are options to speak to somebody on the phone, to receive advice and support, and to receive postal kits. There is also information on how to seek support with your sexual health in light of COVID-19.
- The Sexual Health Line on 0300 123 7123 or NHS 111
I want to know more about cancer screens and self checking
Cervical screening tests
All women over the age of 25 in England will receive a letter from their doctor every three years to remind them to book an appointment for their cervical screening test (sometimes referred to as ‘smear test’). This is a quick and painless test to detect pre-cancerous changes in cells from the cervix (neck of the womb). Early cell abnormalities can be picked up and monitored or treated and eliminated to prevent progression to actual cancer. It's really important to register with a doctor and keep your details up to date so that you can ensure you get regular smear tests.
Breast and testicular cancer: self-examination
Get into the habit of checking yourself on a monthly basis to look for any changes, swelling, pain, lumps or bumps. For more information visit the ‘What should my testicles look and feel like?’ or the how should I check my breasts? pages.
Infertility & IVF
If you are experiencing In vitro fertilisation (IVF) we recognise that this may be a particularly challenging time for you. Please reach out to university services for support. You may also find the following resources helpful:
You may find this podcast series from the BBC called Sex, Drugs and Lullabies interesting and supportive.
I want to know more about consent
Watch this quick interactive presentation to learn more about consent.
Just because you give permission for one thing to happen, like a kiss, doesn't mean you've automatically consented to other kinds of sexual behaviour. The same goes for your partner – always ask, never presume. It's important that everyone involved in any type of sexual activity has freely given their full consent. Similarly, if you've given consent previously, your partner shouldn't assume that you've consented to sexual activity at any time in the future.
And you're allowed to change your mind – don't feel you must continue if you don't want to and do let your partner know you're not happy to carry on. You can stop at any point during sexual activity.
Consent cannot be given by anyone under the age of 16 in the UK.
Lack of consent may not always be communicated verbally. If your partner pulls away from you, tries to push you away or seems uncomfortable in any way during sexual contact, ask them if they're okay to continue. If you're the one feeling uncomfortable, say so. Without your full consent, your partner should know not to continue. It might be easier to start by saying something like 'Can we just take a break for a moment and talk about this?'
Sexual consent can be cloudy in new relationships. When you meet someone new, be open to discussing your boundaries with each other. It might seem uncomfortable at first, but you'll be able to be more open and trusting with each other once you're on the same page. And that makes for a much better relationship.
Remember, not all sexual relationships are portrayed realistically in the media and online, especially in porn. When approaching a new relationship, remember that consent is rarely displayed in porn and your partner shouldn't be expected to perform in the same way either.
Lack of capacity to consent
If drugs or alcohol are a factor in your sexual activity, consent can be harder to be sure of. If you or your partner are under the influence of any substances, you and they may be unable to make informed decisions and you should shop engaging in any form of sexual activity.
I want to know more about sexual violence or harassment
Rape Crisis England and Wales describes sexual violence as 'any kind of unwanted sexual act or activity, including rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and many others'. This means that any sexual activity without consent is deemed as sexual violence, and is a criminal act. Respect the boundaries of others, and be free to voice your concerns if you're uncomfortable in a situation so others can respect you. If you experience any kind of unwanted sexual act or activity and your boundaries weren't respected, speak to Care and Concern or if it’s an emergency call the police.
Citizen's Advice describes sexual harassment as 'unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which:
If you experience or witness any kind of sexual harassment, report it to Report.It.To.Stop.It at the university or if it's an emergency call the police.
I want to know more about emergency contraception
If you've had unprotected sex or the contraception failed, you can get emergency contraception for free from your GP, most NHS walk in centres, sexual health clinics, some hospital A&E departments and Brook centres (if you are under 25). Certain pharmacies also offer emergency contraception but there may be a charge for it.
I want to know more about pregnancy and my options
Take a look at our dedicated support page here and read the university’s policy to find out how we can support you. Taking a home pregnancy test can tell you if you're pregnant. You can buy pregnancy tests from most pharmacies or supermarkets or get one for free from sexual health clinics and Brook centres.
If the test is positive, you should make an appointment with your GP who will be able to confirm the result, explain the next steps and talk you through your options going forward.
Pregnancy can have an effect on your studies, completing placements, taking exams or meeting deadlines.
This Mum Moves gives guidance and support to help women to be active during and after pregnancy.
There are many charities and companies who also offer sexual health advice. FPA is one such charity that provides information around sexual health, relationships and topics such as consent, disability and sex.
It's important that you try to keep a good sleep routine, especially around important deadlines and exams. Watch this 5 minute life hack video on how to supercharge your sleep.
Here are some sleep tips:
If you find yourself struggling with sleep longer term and this is getting in the way of your daily activities, speak with your GP. The NHS also has some more information.
Studies show that students are more likely to drink, smoke and take drugs than the general population. Be aware of the dangers associated with addictive substances so that you can make informed decisions about the way you live your life and care for your health.
Smoking increases your risk of lung cancer and heart disease. It prematurely ages the skin and triples your chance of getting wrinkles around your eyes and mouth. It also causes impotence and reduced sperm count in men, and reduces fertility in women.
It can lead to gum disease, makes the body store fat around the waist and increases the risk of cellulite.
Don't assume that smoking will help you through the stress of exams. Nicotine withdrawals can make you feel stressed and anxious and intake of further nicotine alleviates this. This gives you the false impression that smoking is useful for stress management, but it only helps to manage the withdrawal and cravings you feel from smoking in the first place. E-cigarettes have this same effect, though are considered a safer option to cigarettes if they are used as a stop smoking tool.
If you’re already a smoker, becoming a student could be the ideal time to quit. Going to university or college is a fresh start and a new way of life, and this is your chance to start your new life in a positive, healthy way. There is lots of support to help you quit smoking including services in Barnet.
Read how the NHS can help you stop smoking.
Use of e-cigarettes or vaping has become more popular in the last few years. It is widely understood that vaping is much less harmful than smoking as e-cigarettes do not burn tobacco and therefore do not contain many of the same harmful substances as cigarettes.
E-cigarettes can be a very helpful stop smoking tool as they contain nicotine. However, for this same reason they are addictive and using them for pleasure rather than as a stop smoking tool will likely lead to addiction.
Drinking in moderation can be an enjoyable and usually harmless feature of student life. However, drinking and getting drunk regularly can have potentially serious physical, social and academic effects. Even drinking to excess just occasionally can be damaging.
In the short term, drinking too much can impair academic performance because it affects concentration and makes you more likely to miss classes, hand in work late and do badly in exams. It can also put you at immediate risk of serious harm. The healthy choice in the short term is to take extra care to protect yourself and your friends if you are going out drinking. For example, know your own limits, make sure you know how to get home safely, stay in groups of people you know and do not leave with strangers.
In the longer term, regularly drinking too much can cause liver disease, an increased risk of heart attack, weight gain and a number of different cancers. If you've had a heavy drinking session, you should remain alcohol-free for a full 48 hours to give your body time to recover.
Use this alcohol tracker tool to check how much you're drinking.
Please note that this video is directed at a US audience – in England you must dial 999 to request emergency services.
Alcohol poisoning occurs when someone has consumed toxic levels of alcohol over a short period of time. In the most severe cases, alcohol poisoning can lead to coma, brain damage and death.
The signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
When to seek medical help
If you suspect a fellow student may have alcohol poisoning and they are in halls or on campus, contact Security immediately for support. If you are not in halls or campus, dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance. While you're waiting:
Never leave a person alone to 'sleep it off'. The level of alcohol in a person's blood can continue to rise for up to 30-40 minutes after their last drink. This can cause their symptoms to suddenly become much more severe. You also shouldn't give them coffee or any more alcohol, put them under a cold shower or walk them around. These won't help someone 'sober up' and may even be dangerous.
Drinkaware is an independent charity working to reduce alcohol misuse and harm in the UK. They offer a free chat service if you would like to speak to someone about your alcohol intake, advice and support. If you aren’t sure if your level of drinking is ‘normal’, take the self-assessment or the drink aware quiz.
Experimenting with drugs can sometimes be presented as part of the "student experience". But drugs are illegal for a reason. As well as the risks to your mental and physical health, the legal penalties for drug possession can be severe. Middlesex students found to be using or dealing drugs on campus or in halls of substances may have sanctions brought against them.
There are also legal substances for sale with potential health risks – called ‘legal highs’. However, just because these drugs are legal does not mean that they are safe for use and many are found to contain substances very damaging to health. Like illegal drugs, users are often unaware of what substances they are taking or in what dosages, with obvious implications for health.
The best way to minimise your risk from drugs is not to use them. Failing that, a harm reduction approach is best: find out as much information as you can about any drugs you're using, including the risks, the potential for addiction and what happens when you mix one drug with another or with alcohol. The Loop offer harm reduction advice and services.
You might have heard of 'study drugs' or 'smart drugs'. These are drugs prescribed for conditions such as narcolepsy in other people and sold to students to try to improve exam performance. However, there is no consistent evidence to suggest that use of study or smart drugs can help people to remember information. By taking drugs prescribed for other people, you cannot be certain of what drugs are contained in the substance, or in what quantity. It is very dangerous to take unknown substances and by doing so you put yourself at risk of serious harm. The risk to you can be sudden and harmful after just one use and repeated use can lead to addiction.
Find out more about the risks of 'study' drugs.
Change Grow Live offer harm reduction advice, counselling, access to suitable medications and further signposting if required. If you are considering taking illegal substances, or are already using substances, speak to them for non-judgmental information and advice in a confidential space.
FRANK offers honest information about drugs and provides practical advice and signposting to support.
Watch this short clip on the dangers of 'study' drugs below:
Like your physical health, you can support your mental health by developing self-care habits like eating well, getting enough sleep, moving your body, but also by talking about how you are feeling, keeping in touch with people you care about, asking for help when you need it and doing things that bring you joy. You can read this useful guide from the Charlie Waller foundation on starting university and keeping well.
Like with any routine, you need to find habits that work for you and make you feel good mentally. This will be different for everyone. Here are a few ideas:
Though we provide you with the tools to keep yourselves well, we recognise that you may need additional support from us. Our Student Support and Wellbeing teams are on hand for just that.
You can refer yourself for support to the Counselling and Mental Health service, or if you're immediately concerned about the mental health or wellbeing of a fellow student you should follow the Care and Concern procedure. If you witness any form of discrimination, bullying, harassment, intimidation, violence or any other form of hate, you should call it out by reporting it to Report.It.To.Stop.It.
For an overview of student support available at Middlesex, watch this webinar with Vanessa, Student Wellbeing Coordinator:
Sometimes, a barrier to getting the help you need is recognising that you need some help and then asking for it. Watch this webinar with Student Wellbeing Coordinator Vanessa and MDX postgraduate student and communications team member Evana on asking for help.
I’m worried about a friend’s mental health
It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a situation where a friend may be struggling with their mental health and you want to support them but not know where to start. Why not watch a short webinar on the topic with Student Wellbeing Coordinator Vanessa and Postgraduate student Evana who offer some tips and advice:
It would also be useful to take the short UNIHEADS mental health training which has a whole section on how to support a friend with their mental health.
The team at UNIHEADS have also written this article with some tips on how to look after your friend.
Don't forget that if you are concerned about the conduct, health, wellbeing and safety of another student, you can report this to our Care and Concern team for support.
Look out for your mates
Facetime, Zoom and Skype calls have become a temporary norm and have allowed us to stay connected. But, they never fully replace the richness of a face-to-face interaction with the people you care about most.
The easing of some lockdown restrictions are now enabling more face-to-face time, but how can we all look out for friends whilst physically distanced? It can be hard to know if a friend is struggling, especially when you see them less frequently or over a video call. However, there may be some warning signs that you can look (and listen) out for.
First of all, trust your hunch. You know your friends and family better than most, if you suspect that something is not quite right, then back your judgement.
In the current circumstances, the most common way that you will learn of a friend who might be struggling, will be during conversations with them. Try to take note of any noticeable changes relating to mood or behaviours.
Crucially, try to listen intently when you do connect, so that you can help understand the feelings, thoughts and emotions that they are experiencing at the moment.
If you think that a friend may be struggling, make time to start the conversation with them. You’re not expected to have all the answers or to know exactly what to say. Beforehand, ensure you have enough time to talk to avoid putting time pressures on the conversation.
Wherever possible, avoid starting an impromptu chat at times that are particularly difficult or stressful and so that you have time to prepare. Also, aim to have the conversation when it is just the two of you as this will be less intimidating for your friend.
During the conversation, be sensitive, and show them that you care. Aim to ask open questions that allows your friend space to help encourage them to open up.
This is the most important aspect of connecting with your friend. During the conversation, be positive, seek to reassure and avoid dismissing their problems. Most importantly, let them talk. By giving your friend the opportunity to talk, you are showing them that they are not alone.
Use reflective language to show your support and keep the conversation flowing. For example; 'It sounds as if...' or 'It seems that'...
If they confide in you, try not to act shocked or surprised as this could make your friend feel uncomfortable.
Being there for your friend is crucial, but don’t worry about giving advice, you’re just there to listen and support. You are not expected to have all of the answers or to be able to solve all of their problems for them.
Come up with a way forward together, offer your support at the time and follow up with a supportive text or call afterwards to check in. Remember, you can’t help with everything. Whilst maintaining the confidence of your friend, ensure you are getting any support that you may need as it can be tough looking out for others.
For further advice with how supporting your friends, visit Student Minds and contact your university student services.
We recognise that domestic abuse is a widespread problem that can affect victims both physically and mentally. It is not restricted to purely impacting on an individual’s personal life.
We are committed to highlighting the support that is available to those that are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse.
We have put together key information on the most common contagious and infectious diseases to help you keep healthy.