Best practice when working with students with mental health difficulties

How do mental health difficulties impact on study? 

The impact of a mental health difficulty will vary from individual to individual and will depend upon a range of factors including time since diagnosis, and support available. Students with mental health difficulties may need support in the following areas: 

  • Fatigue: medication may increase fatigue in the mornings and a change in medication may mean a student has additional difficulties in the interim period 
  • Anxiety, including social anxiety 
  • Poor concentration 
  • Low mood 

Key Support Actions 

  • Be clear on deadlines and course requirements
  • Summarise at the end of meetings/discussions 
  • Approach instructions and feedback calmly; students with mental health difficulties are not motivated by forceful criticism 
  • Keep in touch 

Supporting and teaching students with mental health difficulties 

Inclusive Teaching 

Many principles of inclusive teaching are beneficial for students with mental health difficulties. Particular examples are highlighted below:

  • Timetables to take account of medication needs and appointments for support 
  • Well-structured lectures and supervisions so that if concentration is poor the student can easily find their place again
  • Lecture materials and deadlines in advance and clearly described academic tasks 
  • Provide legible written feedback, including good points and aspects requiring further development. This is useful to the student as it avoids the need to record feedback while discussing it and provides a helpful reference. 
  • Firm management of group discussions to manage any difficult conversations. This helps to reduce any anxiety felt by the student about taking part