Wellbeing for Students
The Graduate School delivers a Stress Management workshops for PhD students in partnership with colleagues at Student Counselling and Mental Health Advice. It also provides coaching and one-to-one development support
The Student Counselling and Mental Health Advice Service offers therapeutic consultations to all registered students at Imperial College London. From this, students can be offered further counselling with the service. It is free and confidential. To make an appointment to meet with a counsellor, students can register with the service through the website. The service also has two student mental health advisers (SMHA).
Students need to be referred by a member of College staff, with the student’s permission, in order to be seen by the SMHA. The SMHA is unable to take self-referrals from students or their family and friends.
The Student Counselling and Mental Health Advice Service also delivers workshops on relaxation, self-esteem, procrastination and mindfulness.
The service also offers consultation with staff who are concerned about a student’s wellbeing. Without the student’s consent, this conversation must be kept anonymous to honour the student’s confidentiality.
Wellbeing for students
Professor Wright on some of the issues affecting PhD student
Professor Wright on some of the issues affecting PhD students
In the next video, we asked Professor Denis Wright, Department of life Sciences, to talk about his role within College and some of the issues affecting PhD students.
The provision available to non-native speaking students.
The provision available to non-native speaking students.
Dr Julie King, Director, Centre for Academic English, Imperial College London, talks about the services provided by the Centre for Academic English to support non-native speaking students.
Should an emergency occur at weekends or out of hours, supervisors should inform Security (+44 (0)20 759 48910 or internal 4444) who in turn will involve the College Senior Tutor. Should the emergency occur in the lab then the department’s Health and Safety Manager and possibly the Building Manager should be consulted. Outside agencies such as the police or an ambulance should not be called directly by supervisors.
There may be a rare occasion when a student in crisis (and possibly suicidal) turns to you for help.
During working hours you should immediately inform your Senior Tutor (PGR). You can also direct the student to the relevant College service.
This will not be possible at weekends or out of hours, so in this case you should inform Security (020 759 48910 or internal 4444) who in turn will involve the College Senior Tutor. Outside agencies such as the police or an ambulance should not be called directly by supervisors.
Mental health-related crisis
Mental health-related crisis
The College’s Mental Health Difficulties Protocol [pdf] gives detailed and valuable advice on how to deal with a crisis situation where a student is suffering from severe mental health difficulties. It is important to listen to the student, give them support and inform them of the relevant services.
As a supervisor you should be conscious that you may need to explain to the student that while an effort will be made to keep what they say confidential, this may not be possible if the student or someone else is at risk, or if the student’s behaviour is disruptive. Read more about managing confidentiality as a supervisor.
Imperial's Student Space has valuable information and support for students experiencing depression, low mood and for connecting suicidal students with services which can help them. The website also provides students with helpful information on maintaining a healthy work-life balance, dealing with isolation, homesickness, stress, family issues, personal issues, identity and perfectionism.
Support for Non-Native Speaking Students
Centre for Academic English
The Centre for Academic English (CfAE) offers a range of free courses at all levels to help all PhD students, both native and non-native speakers,, communicate their research as accurately and professionally as possible. The Centre’s provision also includes courses that focus on enhancing students’ ability to present their work with more impact in the wider academic community, particularly in relation to publications and conference papers.
English language courses and consultations offered by the CfAE include:
- PhD technical speaking courses
- Listening and speaking courses
- Communicating Science Successfully sessions One-to-one consultations:
Postgraduate Student Representation
Postgraduate student representation
Each department will have a research student representative network. Additionally, each Faculty has its own Postgraduate Staff-Student Committee.
Alcohol and Drugs
Alcohol and drugs
Your student, or a friend of theirs, might disclose substance misuse to you or you might spot signs yourself.
Signs of substance misuse (eg alcohol dependency, the abuse of prescribed drugs and the use of illegal drugs) include:
- Worsening health;
- Missing tutorials, being absent from the lab / office;
- Consistently achieving less than expected;
- Deteriorating concentration, lack of judgement, inability to make decisions;
- Unpredictable or inappropriate behaviour;
- Relationship problems;
- Worsening appearance - looking tired, messy etc.;
- Not admitting to the negative issues associated with substance misuse;
- Problems with money.
(Thanks to Reading University for source material for these points)
What should you do?
If a student discloses to you, listen to the student’s concerns and help them to find the right sources of support and guidance.
If you suspect there might be a problem, contact the student and ask them to meet with you to explore whether they are OK. You might need to chase them up. At this meeting you might explain the benefits of seeking help and refer them to relevant sources of support and guidance.
Do not hesitate to seek advice from your Senior Tutor (PGR), the Counselling Service or Health Centre. You can do this without referring to the student by name. Student Space's Drugs and Alcohol pages are also useful.
You may also wish to consult the Student Alcohol and Substance Misuse Policy.
Harassment, Victimisation and Bullying
Zero tolerance to bullying and harassment
Imperial is committed to promoting a university environment where everyone is treated with respect and courtesy.
We all have our part to play in showing respect for others. This involves discouraging harassment, bullying and victimisation by making it clear that such behaviour is unacceptable, and supporting those who suffer from it and who are considering making a formal complaint.
The College’s Harassment, Bullying and Victimisation Policy on these issues frames them unequivocally as serious matters which are not acceptable and must be dealt with firmly. These behaviours can happen between students and between a student and a staff member.
There can be a gradation, starting with unpleasant and rude behaviour, going through to very serious and even criminal behaviour and anyone investigating a case will need to determine where on the spectrum the problem stands. The policy indicates that if a student feels harassed, bullied or victimised, he or she should seek advice immediately, either from the Imperial College Union Advice Centre or from someone such as a Senior Tutor (PGR).
If you are involved in one of these cases as a supervisor, the first thing to do is listen and be supportive. The student is likely to be hurt, vulnerable and anxious.
Investigations may be carried out by a Head of Department or another senior member of College staff, depending on the circumstances. Even if a case is investigated, mediation is the preferred way of dealing with the outcome, but disciplinary measures will be used if necessary.
All students are encouraged to register with a local NHS doctor (GP) as soon as possible. Information on finding a doctor can be found on the Student Space website.
If you notice a change in a student’s physical appearance that might suggest that they are unwell, you are encouraged to have a confidential conversation with them based on your observations. For example, you could say, “I notice that you look unusually tired. Are you feeling OK?”
If a student is absent and does not respond to an email enquiring as to their wellbeing and whereabouts, advise your Senior Tutor (PGR).
More health advice for students can be found at Imperial Student Space's health pages.
Relationships and Family
Relationships and family
Problems at home or within relationships can put great pressure on students and distract them from their work. The most helpful thing you can do is listen, without making assumptions, and give the student time and space to air their concerns. Then ask them what they want to do about the issue, if anything, and how you could be of assistance, to avoid falling into the trap of giving your student your solution to their problem.
You should not share any information about an Imperial student outside the College, without their explicit written consent.
The NUS has advice for students who are also carers.
Imperial can offer a range of support to those students having spent at least 3 months in local authority care, which may include foster care, or living in a residential care home. You can access further information on the range of support available on the Care Leavers webpages.
Sexual violence can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, class or background. If a student discloses to you that they have experienced sexual violence, it is important that you listen to them in an open and non-judgemental way. You should reassure the student that there is support available at the College and through external specialist services. Allow the student to guide you as to what kind of support they want from you.
Imperial has a team of Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLOs) who can provide students with confidential care 1-2-1 support and information. You should let the student know about the availability of support through the SVLOs, although it is completely up to the student whether they choose to use the service.
You can also refer to the Sexual Violence pages in Student Space for more information about sexual violence and support.
If a student need medical treatment or is in immediate danger call:
- 999 for the emergency services (off campus)
- 4444 for Security (on campus)
If a student needs urgent advice but does not want to contact the police at this time you can call:
- The Havens – 020 3299 6900 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
- NHS 111 non-emergency service to find your nearest Sexual Assault Referral Service
Transition and Culture Shock
Transition and culture shock
Settling into life at Imperial can be challenging for any student and may be even more so for those also getting used to life in the UK. The links to ideas and resources below should be useful when supporting your students with this process:
- Information from the UK Council for International Student Affairs on culture shock;
- Insight into managing academic shock and language shock from the Centre for Academic English;
- Details of social activities offered by International Student Support;
- Listings of numerous clubs, societies and social opportunities offered by the Imperial College Union;
- Advice on coping with isolation, loneliness and homesickness from Imperial Student Space;
- Advice on adopting culturally inclusive teaching practices.