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Student Wellbeing - Supporting you to look after your loved ones

If you have any concerns at all about your child, family member or friend please get in touch. Contact us at wellbeing@sunderland.ac.uk or call at 0191 515 2933. Should your friend or relative need urgent assistance you, or the student, can contact the CRISIS team on 0303 123 1145 (24 hours). In an emergency please call 999.   

Now that your friend or family member is at University, there are a lot of changes that they might face. The transition to University can be difficult for some students for several reasons. It is likely that students will face many new challenges during their time at University, such as: 

  • Academic pressure 
  • Independent living 
  • Making new friends 
  • Sharing accommodation with other students 

At the University

Whilst many students will have begun to settle into University life by the end of their first term, some students will require some additional support. In university accommodation, they can also speak to accommodation staff and trained  Student Residential Advisors on-site if they require help or support. Ask for them at Accommodation reception. Alternatively, wellbeing staff can also request they make a connection with your friend or family member.  

At Sunderland University we offer a host of services to support the student in this transition. This includes online, group, peer, and 1:1 Support. The Student Journey web page offers advice and information for those who have any concerns about a relative, friend, or housemate at the University of Sunderland.  

What can I do?

You may find that being there and listening to your relative or friend is all they need at this moment in time. See the below section ‘Looking after someone else’ if you intend to continue supporting a relative/friend experiencing mental health difficulties. However, if you do not feel able to support them, or you believe that they need further support, you can recommend that they do one or more the following: 

  • Talk to their personal tutor if their concerns are linked to their studies at University. 
  • Arrange to meet with someone via Student Union who will help set up a peer support scheme choose sunderland. In addition. Have a look at our self-help Silvercloud and on our belonging pages on the University of Sunderland Wellbeing website. 
  • Ask your friend/family member to visit their GP to discuss concerns about their health. If they haven’t registered with a GP in Sunderland encourage them to do so.  
  • Encourage your friend/ family member to book an appointment with a practitioner from Wellbeing Services to discuss wellbeing concerns. 

People are often worried about the stigma attached to having a mental health problem. The evaluation forms given out to students at the end of therapy show that the majority of students who accessed support said it helped them to stay at University and improved their wellbeing. So, we would really encourage you to talk to your friend/family member about accessing support through Wellbeing Services. You could always show them the website or go with them to make the first appointment if they feel daunted by the idea of accessing support. 

Looking after someone else

If your friend or relative has shared their difficulties with you then try and be as empathetic as possible; imagine what it must be like for them. This may be difficult if they have had very different experiences to you, however it is important to try and understand what they are going through. 


We would recommend looking at the resources below: 

The Mind website has several excellent booklets that give information and advice on how to support someone with a mental health difficulty. There are also specific booklets relating to a wide number of mental health problems. 

The Look After your mate campaign ran by Student Minds, aims to give more students the confidence and knowledge to support their friends whilst at University. You can download their Look After Your Mate Guide which provides tips and information for supporting someone who is experiencing mental health difficulties.   

Looking after yourself

Witnessing a friend or loved one going through a troubling time can be stressful and upsetting. We are happy to offer confidential support and advice, which can help to clarify your concerns and decide how best to respond. A discussion with our Wellbeing team can also help you to keep in mind your own limits and to know when to stop intervening.  Please contact us on 0191 5152933 or email wellbeing@sunderland.ac.uk.

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