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An increasing number of students at University are experiencing mental health difficulties that impact not only on their academic work, but also on all other aspects of their University life. Mental health difficulties not only have implications for the student involved, but often also for those around them such as friends, colleagues, staff and family.


It is acknowledged that supporting someone who is experiencing issues with their mental health can be difficult and challenging, and that people should not feel alone in such situations. If in doubt, there are services that you can contact for guidance and support in confidence.


It is important to acknowledge that mental health difficulties can present themselves in a wide variety of ways, depending upon the individual and the circumstances. What perhaps is most important, is to consider if possible, how a person seems in relation to how they usually are. Changes in people's mood and personality can provide important indicators as to how they are feeling. Unusual mood swings or social withdrawal might, for example, provide some indication that the person is experiencing some degree of emotional distress.


Essentially, it is difficult to define what is 'normal', other than to use an individual's usual behaviour as a point of comparison. Clearly it is not always possible to make such comparisons when dealing with  someone for the first time or with little prior knowledge of them. The following list might help you become alert to the presence of emotional distress - the list is not a diagnostic tool, but rather a collection of signs that might indicate that the person is experiencing some degree of mental health difficulty:



* Erratic or unpredictable behaviour

* Agitation or overt anxiety

* Dishinibition

* Social withdrawal/avoidance of social interaction or contact

* Unexplained or prolonged crying

* Change or disturbance in eating/sleeping patterns

* Incoherent speech

* Paranoia

* Physical ill-health

* Hearing voices

* Behaviour inappropriate to the social context

* Any verbalised thoughts of suicide/harm.


It is important to recognise that we all may experience one or more of these factors at given points in our lives, and that none of the above in isolation indicate a severe or enduring mental illness. The presence of these factors might suggest a need for greater concern or investigation.



If you are concerned that someone you are supporting is showing any of the above signs, or if you need help yourself, then you can access mental health services from within your university. Support is confidential and you can get advice about a friend without necessarily giving the name of the person involved.


University of Liverpool Counselling and Mental Health Service and Student Welfare, Advice and Guidance

Liverpool John Moores University Health and Wellbeing

Liverpool Hope University Mental Health and Wellbeing

LIPA Student Support Services




Source: University of Liverpool, Counselling and Mental Health Services

Liverpool Student Homes, 5 Oxford St, Liverpool, L7 7HL
Tel Main: 0151 794 3296, Email: lsh@liverpool.ac.uk

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