Mental health support
With one in four of us experiencing a mental health difficulty at some point in our lives, we’re all much more aware of the need to maintain good mental health. That's why it's important for you to know we're here to listen to any concerns you may have about your study and we'll help and support you in the best way we can.
It's common for students to experience difficulties during their study journey but for some, studying can increase vulnerability to unhealthy levels of stress, anxiety and other mental health difficulties.
Whether you have a diagnosed mental health difficulty or not, taking care of your mental health is really important to help you study effectively. The Open University (OU) is committed to supporting you to achieve this.
How to get support while studying
This short animation explains how we can support you if your mental health difficulties are impacting any aspect of your study.
Looking after your mental health126
Good mental health is a key ingredient for successful study.
It is common to feel stressed or experience difficulties during your study journey.
If you feel that you’re struggling, you can contact us and we will do our best to support you.
Remember, you’re not alone; we currently support over 10,000 students who have told us that they have a mental health difficulty.
These difficulties come in many varied forms and can affect you and your studies in lots of different ways.
There’s two main ways in which we can support you.
Firstly, we will listen to how your studies are being affected and offer solutions to try and give you the support you need.
This comes in may forms such as a chat with your tutor about what areas you should focus on, assignment extensions, rest breaks during exams, mental health mentoring support through Disabled Students’ Allowances, support from other students through online forums, or maybe even taking a break from study.
Secondly, we can direct you to specialised organisations that support people with mental health difficulties.
For example, we partner with the Big White Wall and Nightline who are both experts in supporting students in this area.
Whatever way you choose to contact us our advisors are standing by to talk things through with you about what might help with your studies and suggest information you can read on how to de-stress or improve your work life balance.
So you’ll successfully go on to achieve the next step on your learning journey at the Open University.
What we can do to help
If you feel as though you're struggling to cope with your studies, please talk to us, we’re here to help. Either contact your Student Support Team (SST) or tutor as they'll be able to offer alternative options and solutions for any study related issues you may be having.
This could include:
- discussing areas of focus with your tutor
- extra time to complete assignments
- creating a more manageable study timetable with your tutor
- additional support in tutorials, day school or residential school
- revision support
- taking rest breaks during exams
- taking a break from study
Telling us about your mental health difficulty
We support over 10,000 students that have told us they have a mental health difficulty. You can tell us at any stage in your studies, but we recommend you do so as early as possible so we can make reasonable adjustments and support you to reach your full potential.
You may not consider mental health to be a disability. However, mental health issues are covered under the Equality Act 2010 and you could be eligible for Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs). These allowances could finance mental health mentoring support during your studies.Back to top
Our mental health support partners
If your mental health difficulties are not study related we can recommend more specialised services that could help you.
Big White Wall
If you’re struggling to sleep, feeling low, stressed or not coping, you can access free mental health and wellbeing support through our current partnership with Big White Wall. It’s a safe and completely anonymous online space that's available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To join Big White Wall’s supportive online community, you’ll need to follow these steps to register:
- Go to Big White Wall.
- Select ‘Join Us’.
- Under ‘Organisation’ select ‘Universities and Colleges’ then ‘Next’.
- Enter your OU email address (provided with Microsoft Office365). This will be OUCU@ou.ac.uk (where OUCU is your OU computer username for example email@example.com).
- Enter your details and click ‘Sign up’.
- You'll be sent an email to verify your email address. Click on the link to activate your account.
You can then choose an anonymous username for your time on the site. If you don't know what your OU email address is see Your OU email address.
As Big White Wall is a self-help resource it may not be suitable for everyone. Its advisors are there to help you with wellbeing but can’t answer specific questions about the OU or your studies with us. If you have specific questions about your studies please contact your SST.
Nightline is a listening service run by trained students offering emotional support and practical information to students through the night. Their operating hours are mainly in line with term times at campus universities. You can contact them by phone, live chat, email, text or Skype. For details of the OU service see nightline.
Open University Students Association - Peer Support
OU Students Association offer a confidential Peer Support service. Peer Supporters are trained OU students that provide a listening ear if you're struggling with your learning and can offer you study skills support.
For more information see Peer Support.Back to top
Do you need urgent help?
If you need more immediate help, you can contact:
- Samaritans - Tel: 116 123 who are available any time and any day
- Mind - Tel: 0300 123 3393
- SANEline - Tel: 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm-10.30pm)
- your local GP for medical advice by making an emergency appointment
- NHS (England & Wales) Tel: 111, NHS 24 (Scotland) Tel: 08454 242424, NI Direct (Northern Ireland) Tel: 0808 808 8000
- 999 or go to Accident and Emergency (A&E) for immediate help.
For more information on other specialised services see External sources of information and support.Back to top