Mental health support in the UK

Last modified: 22 August 2018

Note: UKCISA doesn't provide mental health advice on our advice line but the following information should direct you to useful support and organisations. 

Moving to a new country, learning different methods of studying and forming new friendship groups can be a very exciting time when you study in the UK. But it can also be very scary if you’re adapting to a new climate, potentially speaking in a different language and feel far from your friends and family. 

Starting a new university, school or college is a big change and all students, whether from the UK or elsewhere, may feel overwhelmed at some point. You’re not alone.

You may experience feeling isolated, distressed, anxious or lonely. International students can have many concerns, including:

  • Language barriers
  • Not understanding cultural references
  • Financial worries
  • Exam stress
  • Worrying about proving yourself to your parents

There are small steps you can take; making sure you don’t isolate yourself by going outside to a public place can help, or talking about how you’re feeling with a tutor or a friend from home. We have more advice about how to cope in our blog

If you’re feeling upset, like you can’t get motivated or cope with your studies please speak to someone about it. The NHS provides a useful overview of where and when to seek help.  

Attitudes to mental health in the UK

Students often say that they don’t want to draw attention to any issues because in their home country they don’t recognise it as an illness or it is frowned upon.

‘[in China] we only go to help if we get hurt physically, but not mentally.’ (Read one of our members’ research reports featuring this quote which includes lots of international student thoughts about mental health, counselling and wellbeing.)

In the UK organisations are increasingly creating campaigns to encourage‘time to talk’. This may be different from perceptions of mental health in your home country.  Read our myths about mental health

When you arrive to the UK you may experience 'culture shock' as you adjust to a new culture. This is normal, usually temporary and to be expected. Read our advice about coping with culture shock. However, if you feel like you've been experiencing these feelings for a period of time you may benefit from some additional help.

Where to get help

There are lots of places that can help you and provide support so please don’t suffer in silence. Click to read more information on the items below:

At your institution

Other organisations

Your doctor

Online tools

Worried about a friend?


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