Health and wellbeing support
Guidance and support
We understand this new challenge could affect your mental health, physical health and wellbeing, so you'll find lots of support when you get here. From the outset, our Student Wellbeing Service and Residence Life Team will help you settle in and guide you. We'll support you in your studies if you're living with anxiety, stress or depression, or supporting someone who is.
You'll also have free access to workshops and courses to support your mental health, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) courses and workshops in compassionate mind training. You can get support and guidance directly through us, or through our partnerships with wellbeing organisations across the city.
In regard to the extra help and support with uni work and student wellbeing, it was nice to know the Uni offered a lot of different services.
How we support your wellbeing
Even before you arrive on campus, you can get online support from our welcome ambassadors. They're current students who can share their experiences of starting university and give you inside information.
Welcome ambassadors can tell you about events and places in the city you might enjoy, explain how to budget as a new student, and signpost you to more support if you need it. They can also support you when you get here.
Residence Life Team
When you move into your accommodation, you'll get free 24/7 confidential welfare support and advice from the Residence Life Team based in Bateson Hall. They manage the welfare and concerns of students living in our halls of residence, and provide support for all first-year students living in private accommodation or Unite halls.
If you're staying in our halls of residence, members of the Residence Life Team are available in person during the day. During the evenings, you can reach their out-of-hours care by calling security. If you live outside of halls during first year, you can contact the team on the phone.
You can discuss confidential matters with a member of the team by booking an appointment, or going to an evening drop-in surgery.
The Residence Life Team can help you by:
- Mediating difficulties with flatmates
- Listening to concerns about your studies and signposting you to support
- Responding to an emergency situation
Residence life assistants
The Residence Life Team has student assistants who can use their own experience of living in halls to support you. They're trained in all likely issues and are available in halls to help you for 2 hours every evening during the week.
Residence Life Team events
The Residence Life Team runs a programme of events during the year to help you settle in and have the best possible experience while living away from home. They run events including film nights, quizzes, CV workshops, karaoke nights, speed-friending and games nights.
The events are based around 4 main principles:
- Community building – your responsibility in a communal living environment
- Social – inclusivity in your community
- Wellbeing – your welfare, health, safety, comfort and security in our accommodation
- Skills – academic and study skills
Student Wellbeing Service
You can get personal and emotional support, mental health support and counselling from our Student Wellbeing Service. They organise workshops and courses throughout the academic year.
The Student Wellbeing Service is the hub for learning, advice and support for your emotional wellbeing and mental health. You can get free, confidential help for a wide range of personal and emotional concerns.
Mark Harold, Wellbeing Adviser: We are the Student Wellbeing Service.
Michelle Dadachanjii, Counsellor: As a student at the University of Portsmouth, we want you to fulfil your potential and have a life-changing student experience. At the heart of this is the personalised package of support that we offer with a focus on wellbeing and resilience that helps you to meet your academic goals.
The Student Wellbeing Service is the hub for learning, advice and support for your emotional wellbeing and mental health.
Steve Daly, Wellbeing Adviser: If you are new to university life, then you may be facing a number of life challenges. Transitioning from home to a new life, financial independence, new friendships and relationships, living independently and, of course, new academic challenges and expectations.
For all students, each level of university learning comes with new challenges and different kinds of academic stress and pressure. And this year, there is the new blended and connected approach to learning with all the changes and challenges due to the global pandemic.
When you're facing challenges, it is likely you will find yourself feeling stressed, worried, unhappy or anxious at times. This does not mean there is something wrong with you. Learning to cope with these challenges constructively provides opportunities for growth and personal development. The knowledge and tools you will develop are life skills that you can take forward and use long after graduation.
But if you do start to struggle at any point, please do come see us straight away.
Mike Pink, Mental Health Adviser: The Student Wellbeing Service is a team of practitioners with a broad range of experience, expertise and skills. This allows us to provide a comprehensive package of support, including good links with the NHS and other specialist support services. We have mental health advisers, counsellors and wellbeing advisers who offer one-to-one support. Everything is set up so you can safely come in and see us for these*, or you can book a phone or video call instead. Alternatively, you can text chat anonymously with our wellbeing advisers via our WhatsUp app.
(* Note that routine in-person appointments may be suspended during lockdowns, but our reception will remain open or you can call to find out more about the best way to seek support.)
Mark Harold, Wellbeing Adviser: When you register for support with us, we will work with you to plan a personalised support pathway. This may include one or more events from our courses and workshops programme, where you can learn positive wellbeing skills in relaxed and friendly online sessions. This includes our popular Be Your Own Best Friend workshop and our Compassionate Mind course. You can browse an extensive range of self-help information with our online resources.
Ruth Geddes, Senior Wellbeing Adviser: We run a weekly wellbeing cafe. The cafe has transferred well to a virtual format, and we will be looking to arrange some safe in-person activities as the academic year gets underway. We also support students who have taken the Welcome Ambassador pledge and are following the University's student leadership pathway. The Welcome Ambassador scheme is a great way of easing the transition into Uni life by connecting with other students. Check out the Welcome Ambassador Facebook page for more details.
Michelle Dadachanji, Counsellor: So, as you can see, there are a range of different options designed to give you the choice of how you may wish to use our service. For more detailed information about everything that we provide and how to access the service, please visit our website and remember, if you think you need support, please come and see us.
When you need support, you can book a same-day short advice session or register for a longer appointment with our team of counsellors, wellbeing or mental health advisers. You'll get time and space in every session to explore your concerns and find a way forward.
If you're experiencing specific mental health difficulties, we'll assess your support needs (sometimes with the help of our consultant psychiatrist), discuss treatment options and help you access support services and develop positive coping strategies.
Workshops and courses
If you're looking for personal development opportunities to support your wellbeing, you can sign up for workshops and courses run throughout the academic year by the Student Wellbeing Service.
All workshops and courses are run in small groups, letting you share and learn from others in a relaxed and friendly environment while developing strategies that you can implement to improve your wellbeing.
Wellbeing workshops and courses you can join
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) aims to change the way you think and behave in certain situations of stress or anxiety using talking therapy. Our CBT courses are run by Talking Change, a Solent NHS Trust self-help and talking therapies service.
To sign up for a course when you're at university, you'll first have to register with a Portsmouth GP. If someone running a CBT course has concerns about your welfare and thinks you might be at harm, they'll notify your GP to look out for your safety.
CBT courses run by Talking Change might include:
- Introduction to CBT
- Stress less, stay well
- Getting a better night's sleep
- Keep calm and carry on
- A survival guide to panic
- From stress to success (4-week course)
You can also access workshops based on the compassionate mind model, which helps you address the causes of suffering in yourself and others.
Workshops might include:
- Be your own best friend: introduction to compassionate mind training
- Mood boost
- Escaping the perfectionist trap
- From procrastination to productivity
- Laughter: a natural way to feel good
- Find your meaning
- Wellbeing action plan workshop
- Managing emotions (3-week course)
- Workout your way to better wellbeing (6-week programme)
- Living and learning well with autism (invitation-only)
- Being you (invitation-only)
If you find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and emotions at university, you can use mindfulness to train your mind and deal with stress and worries differently.
To help you be more mindful, we run a 4-week mindfulness course that covers the basics of this integrative, mind and body-based approach. If you sign up for this course, you'll learn to:
- Stay in touch with the present moment and get less caught up in negative thoughts and overthinking
- Deepen your awareness and respond better to events in your life
- Reduce and manage low levels of anxiety, depression and stress
If you live with mental health problems or support someone who does, you can attend free courses and short sessions run by our Student Wellbeing Service in collaboration with the Solent Recovery College.
On these courses, you'll learn practical skills for living with ongoing symptoms in a safe and confidential space, and work with mental health professionals from Solent Mind's Peer Trainers and staff from Solent NHS Trust.
Courses run with the Recovery College might include:
- Skills for life at university
- Understanding and living with anxiety
- Understanding and living with depression
- Understanding and living with personality disorder
- Supporting someone else's recovery
- Living with bipolar
- Understanding and developing mindfulness
- Understanding mind and body: making a change
- Coping in a crisis
- Exam stress
- Writing your recovery narrative
Wellbeing Café is a weekly opportunity to virtually connect with others and take time out to focus on fun and relaxing wellbeing activities. At this meet-up, you can chat to other students and our Wellbeing Service Practitioners.
You can take part in online activities developed by and for students who attend the Wellbeing Cafe such as creative writing, crafts and mindfulness. Activities can also include practical support, such as budgeting advice to reduce the stress of managing money. Guest speakers lead discussions on wellbeing topics and run helpful activities.
Feel Good Fest
Each year, we run Feel Good Fest to inspire you to take care of your wellbeing. You can join other students, staff, local artists and organisations at this free event packed with activities to promote personal wellbeing.
Activities at Feel Good Fest include:
- Free food tasting
- Performances and entertainment from societies
- Craft workshops
- 'Get Active' sports and recreation taster sessions
- Giveaways and raffle prizes
If you're looking for a quiet space to reflect or pray, guidance from our chaplains or somewhere to have lunch with friends, you can use our multi-faith Chaplaincy.
You can use the Chaplaincy facilities, including a multi-faith quiet room and Islamic prayer rooms, or speak to our chaplains who will:
- Listen non-judgmentally
- Encourage you to develop and grow
- Support you for as long as it takes
As well as support for health and wellbeing, you can get support from our chaplains for faith issues, domestic abuse, pregnancy, refugee status, marriage advice, financial problems, substance abuse and academic concerns.
Students' Union Advice Service
You can also get confidential, impartial and non-judgemental support on academic and University issues from the Students' Union Advice Service. They can support you in academic appeals, extenuating circumstances and complaints.
As part of the Students' Union, this service is run independently from the University, but works closely with us to help resolve issues and make sure all students are treated fairly.
Online resources for wellbeing support
You can use this mobile app free of charge to chat to staff from the Student Wellbeing Service during office hours. Any messages sent out of hours will be replied to the next working day.
As one of our students, you can download the WhatsUp? app from your phone's app store and use your University of Portsmouth student ID to log in instantly. Once your ID is validated, you can use the app anonymously.
You can also use the app:
- To rate your mood
- As a personal journal
- For inspirational notifications
- To raise a concern for someone else
- To ask a question
- To find wellbeing contacts
You can sign up for online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) courses for free. These courses are run through SilverCloud and have shown high improvement rates for people living with depression, anxiety and stress.
You'll learn useful self-management skills using research-led CBT methods in your own time and at your own pace. You can sign up for any or all of the following courses:
- Low mood/depression
- Body image issues
Supporting your physical health
If you live in Portsmouth while studying with us, you can register as a patient as the nearest doctor's surgery for NHS advice and support. You can often book appointments, request repeat prescriptions and view your GP record and tests results online.
You can also keep fit by getting a student membership to our University sports facilities from as little as £109 for the whole year, including the summer holidays. Your membership gives you access to our gym with 4 floors of equipment, 50+ classes every week and unlimited racket sports bookings.
How you can support the wellbeing of others
If you want to support the wellbeing of other students, you can join one of our student support projects.
Become a welcome ambassador
Once you're settled into university life, you can help other students feel at home and give them guidance when starting uni by becoming a welcome ambassador. Your role would include being present on campus during the first few weeks of the academic year and working with University staff to organise and run welcome events.
You'll also spend time on social networks, sharing supportive content and engaging with new students to promote a sense of community.
As a welcome ambassador, you'll:
- Be a positive and proactive role model for new students
- Draw on your own experiences of the challenges of settling in at university
- Connect with students and staff across the University
Join the Speak UP Step UP campaign
You can take part in our Speak UP Step UP campaign which promotes and maintains a culture of dignity and respect. The 3 main themes of the campaign are bullying and harassment, sexual violence and sexual consent, and discrimination and hate crime, which you'll challenge by:
- Completing our annual Speak UP Step UP student survey
- Reporting any experience of harassment, bullying, violence or discrimination
- Completing our Speak UP Step UP introductory leadership training
- Applying to become a Speak UP Step UP champion