Mental health and wellbeing for Research Students

Our research student community at UCL often have difficulty in navigating the support services available to them and we recognise research students may be facing additional mental health challenges due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by coronavirus (COVID-19). Here we have tried to pull together and explain the support services that you as research students can access and be sign posted towards along with some useful information.

We have focused on the overarching areas supported by the Mental Health and Wellbeing Team within Student Support and Wellbeing.

If you are ever in doubt or are concerned about your ability to engage with services, or provide feedback on the support you received, please contact the Student Support and Wellbeing Team directly on 020 7679 0100 (lines are open Mon-Fri 9am–5pm) or via askUCL student enquiry system.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Support

UCL Care First
provides support to students currently in the UK. Students outside the UK should contact the Global Student Assistance Programme, providing free, confidential support, at any time of day. Research students are able to access the full offer from Care First Lifestyle as are staff. This means that as well a phone and online counselling they can receive face-to-face counselling. 

To access face-to-face counselling research students need to be referred by a member of Student Support and Wellbeing (020 7679 0100 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm or via askUCL).

Research students can of course also use Care First as all other students, which offers them a brief solution-focused therapy (BSFT) model. This is a short-term counselling approach which allows flexibility.

For online counselling visit UCL Care First Lifestyle.

is online, self-led Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and as with Care First Lifestyle, research students can access the full Silver Cloud provision available to staff. They only need to log-on and will be able to view the long list of modules to choose from to help them overcome the area of difficulty they are currently facing. Modules focus on 3 overarching themes; Mental Health, Wellbeing and Chronic Health.

Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing Team
advisers offer research students solution focused, non-therapeutic support, advice and guidance. Students can access the service via phone (020 7679 0100 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) or via askUCL. The team has a daily offer of same-day appointments as well as appointments available for students to book in advance. Students can elect to talk to a Mental Health Coordinator, Wellbeing Advisor or Disability Advisor. We can provide advice on support that might be suitable for a research student as well as setting up reasonable adjustments and practical support for students with long term mental health conditions, likely to impact them for the duration of their studies.

Student Psychological and Counselling Services
All students are able to access support via  Psychological and Counselling Services (SPCS). We do recommend that research students consider Care-First Lifestyle as a first option due to the volumes attempting to access SPCS. SPCS are a team of psychiatrists and counsellors who offer a range of short-term counselling and therapeutic approaches. Support is offered face-to-face, online and via telephone. Students are required to register using an online form via askUCL to access support and all students are triaged within 24 hours by a team of duty-counsellors. Students who are deemed high risk will be contacted at this point, otherwise the average wait time for an initial appointment is 2-3 weeks.

To book one of these appointments, please submit an enquiry through askUCL.

Mindfulness App for Stress Management
Many research students experience stress and in particular, the past year has caused a lot of additional stress and worries. The following are useful resources for research students who are experiencing stress, to a degree that they can manage themselves.

10 minute mind  is a mindfulness app created by UCL. It can be helpful in ensuring students are taking a break from studies and training their minds to relax.

Student Space by Student Minds has a number of articles and resources for students studying through the Covid-19 pandemic. It is led by Student Minds, who are a charity focusing on the mental health and wellbeing of students studying in the UK.

UCL Disability Support
Students who have an ongoing mental health condition, which has lasted or will last 12 months or more, or for the duration of their studies, can register as a disabled student. Disabled students are able to access reasonable adjustments to their studies as is our duty in line with Equality Legislation. Reasonable adjustments are implemented via a Summary of Reasonable Adjustments (SORA), which can be implemented by the Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing Team.

Reasonable Adjustments can also be implemented separate to the SORA such as practical adjustments and person-based adjustments. These are funded adjustments and are also assessed and implemented by the Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing Team.

For students who experience mental health conditions we offer Mentoring Support, which is weekly or bi-weekly meeting with a Mental Health professional to develop strategies for managing academic study alongside their health. Students can contact the Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing Team via phone (020 7679 0100 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) or via askUCL.

Mental Health First Aiders
is a network of staff across UCL who are trained to have a conversation about mental health with colleagues and students and to signpost them to relevant resources. They have received Adult Mental Health First Aid training from MHFA England. Find out the contact details of Mental Health First Aider in your faculty.

Wellbeing issues

Many wellbeing issues can be addressed via the above support services; in particular by contacting the Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing Team. The team work closely with the following external agencies to provide specific support:

  • Sexual Misconduct and Violence
    We can refer students to Rape Crisis or Survivors UK for those who have been affected by sexual misconduct or violence for either support and / or specialist counselling services.
  • Support for Trans students and students who are having difficulty with their gender identity
    We can refer students for mentoring support via Gendered Intelligence to provide specialist support and guidance on their identity as a Trans person or in understanding their gender identity.

Please contact SSW team directly on 020 7679 0100 (lines are open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) or via askUCL student enquiry system.

Student of Concern
If you are concerned about a UCL student and would like Student Support and Wellbeing to actively try and reach out / make contact with them, you can complete a Student of Concern form. We respond to these forms within 24 working hours. We will follow up with you following the submission of the form to let you know the actions we have taken and whether the student has been contacted.

Keeping in Touch Campaign
in UCL has a team of student ambassadors calling students to check in on them during lockdown and signpost them to any necessary support. SSW is planning to recruit and train some PGR student ambassadors to ensure the research students get the opportunity to speak to other research students in the same positions they are in.

UCL Wellbeing Champions
are voluntary members of staff who implement and support Wellbeing @UCL through effective signposting, knowledge of available support, organising and promoting wellbeing activities, and encouraging healthy lifestyles and positive mental health.

Find your local Wellbeing Champions.

UCL Report and Support
We encourage students to use Report and Support should they wish to report any experiences of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct or violence. You can report with the consent of a student on their behalf if they do not feel able, but want to report.

Students can decide if they want to be supported or if they just wish to report. If you want to be supported, you can elect from a group of roles who you want to be supported by.  If students are choosing just to report, they can also elect to report anonymously.

Students' Union UCL and Advice Service
 are a great source of advice and support. As well as the Advice Service, which can offer advice on a wide range of services from tenancy issues to academic issues, there are the various networks and Officers. The networks and Officers we refer to regularly are:

  • UCL Student Parents and Carers Society
  • Welfare and international officer
  • Post graduate Officer
  • LGBTQ+ Students Network

Postgraduate Project Active
is about feeling empowered and having fun, but most of all enjoying being active in whatever way works for you. Postgraduate Project Active sessions are open to all Postgraduate UCL students and staff.

Support for student parents and carers

The Students' Union offer support to our community of student parents and carers, which is connected on a closed (private) Facebook group. They have regular meet ups and events for the community, details of which are updated on this group. They have also created a formal society called the UCL Student Parents And Carers Society

Please also see our Parental Leave Policy.

External Support

 offer a free listening service any time of day and night. To contact please call 116 123 (free call)  or email jo@samaritans.org.

is a listening service for students led by students, which offers support term time over night. Contact via phone +44 (0)207 631 0101 or email: listening@nightline.org.uk.  

Cycling options for students

Dockless bikes
UCL working with Camden to add Jump bikes to Gower Street and Gordon Street

Own a bike for £30 per month

Camden council bike loan 1 month