Go to your student union for support on a range of issues including discrimination, sexual health, alcohol and drug use, mental health support, peer support and general health and wellbeing, disability support, learning support, and academic advice.

Many young people head off to university to take advantage of ‘the student experience’- making life-long friends, enjoying new found freedom and independence, going to modern bars and trying out new social clubs. Students do all this while taking care of their finances and studying hard for in their course, establishing themselves as successful adult.

A more realistic picture of university shows the reality of someone who may be juggling their course and a part-time job, trying to form positive relationships while staying away from the pressures of drugs and alcohol, finding their feet living away from home for the first time and learning to depend on themselves. Stress, uncertainty and anxiety is often made worse by the illusion that everyone else is getting on just fine.

Don’t let this put you off, university can be the perfect time to challenge yourself, and learn who you are and what you’re made of. It's best to go in with realistic expectations of what you may find during this time, good and bad, and be willing to learn the strategies and coping mechanisms to get the best out of what university has to offer.

Making sure you have balance in your life.

Taking care of yourself, following creative pursuits, engaging in social activities, challenging yourself academically but also giving yourself some me-time as well as eating well and taking care of your body is very important.

There will be many clubs on campus that you can join to maintain social connections and try new things. You may be able to get a discount on gyms in your area with your student card to stay fit.

You can use various apps to help you prioritise your time and build good habits like meditation.

There are many resources online to give you ideas, support and inspiration for learning to keep a healthy and balanced life.

It is helpful to know that many people experience stress and anxiety. Sometimes it is productive as it motivates us into action, but it is helpful to recognise when stress and anxiety become overwhelming and start interfering with everyday life. To stop this happening we can equip ourselves with different tools to keep a handle on stressful situations and feelings of anxiety.

  • psychological therapies – you can get psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on the NHS. You don't need a referral from your GP. You can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service in your area.
  • medication – such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

There are also many things you can do yourself to help reduce your anxiety, such as: 

  • going on a self-help course
  • exercising regularly
  • stopping smoking
  • cutting down on the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink
  • trying one of the mental health apps and tools in the NHS apps library

Drugs and alcohol are often seen as part of ‘the student experience’.

‘Social drinking’ can very quickly turn into binge drinking and, if students are not mindful, it becomes commonplace. When inhibitions are lowered or drugs are seen to be more ‘normal’ or 'okay'. This can lead to students experimenting with different illicit and prescription drugs. These perceptions about substances can lead to many harmful effects.

You are more likely to engage in risky behaviour including walking home alone, having unprotected sex, getting into fights or getting involved in an accident.

You may have suffered from poor sleep and be unable to complete your work or attend lectures.

The mental effects of drugs and alcohol are enormous. The next day you may not recall what you have done which can lead to anxiety, regret and worry. You may suffer from bad hangovers or ‘come-downs’.

Substance use can unlock the door to mental ill health and mental illness like depression, anxiety and psychosis.

Drugs and alcohol can have terrible effects on your physical health and put you at higher risk of developing cancer, liver disease, heart disease, stroke and infertility.

Heavy drinking can impact on your personal relationships and can affect your energy levels, mental agility and ability to concentrate, which will have a knock on effect on your studies. 

Sexual consent matters.

Sexual activity without consent is sexual assault and is always a crime. It isn’t enough to assume someone has given consent for sexual activity and with lots of media attention it's an important topic on everyone's radar. It is essential that each person is sure that anyone else involved has given their full consent. The best way to make sure of this is to ask them. As well as asking for verbal consent, we'd suggest that you take it slowly and take time to read how the other person reacts to what you are doing. If you are unsure of their reaction or something doesn't feel right, you need to ask if they want you to stop and if they are okay.


  • Consent needs to be asked for verbally.
  • Check in throughout
  • Let the other person know that it’s okay to say no.
  • Respect the other person’s answer & their choice to change their mind.
  • Body language is important

Safe sex

Always use condoms to help protect yourself from catching or passing on a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Remember... It's not just about protecting against pregnancy.

Many people with STIs do not get symptoms, so it's worth getting tested even if you feel fine. If you think you have an STI, the earlier you're tested, the sooner treatment can be given if it's needed. Find STI services near you.

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Healthy relationships

Relationships should always be respectful, fair and built on trust.

If you find that you're being pressured into doing things that you're not comfortable with or parts of your life are being restricted or controlled then speak to someone you trust to see what they think. If you don't have anyone close to you call who support both men and women.