Mental Health Advice and Support

Declaring a mental health condition

Swansea University has the provision for a student to declare they have a mental health condition. This information is recorded on your student information record, commonly categorised as a ‘Code F’. This can be done by a student prior enrolment and at any time during your course if a condition is diagnosed.

Why Declare a Mental Health Condition?

The University does not make it in any way a condition of your enrolment that you disclose your mental health condition. It is entirely your choice to disclose or not.  You may find that your condition does not impact on your ability to study or engage with other aspects of university life so you do not feel personal health information is relevant to disclose.

The University encourages students to declare specifically if your condition can have an impact on your ability to study. In addition to declaring, the university requests medical evidence of your condition e.g a GP letter confirming your diagnosis and how it impacts on you.

Without a formal declaration and medical evidence, the university cannot offer you additional formal learning support services that you may have benefitted from in other educational settings. These could be things like additional time or a smaller room in exam conditions, alternative means of assessment for coursework etc. It also means we cannot assist and progress any application for what is known as Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), another formal, non means tested additional support.

In the sections below it is described how the Wellbeing Mental Health Service can assist a student with a mental health condition to access formal support if this is what they want to do.

Why declare a Mental Health Condition?

Advice and support

The Wellbeing Service at Swansea University employs four Mental Health Coordinators with a specific role to support students who wish to engage with us. Simply because you have a mental health condition does not place any pressure on you to make yourselves known to us, this is a choice we believe you should make for yourself.

We do not replace NHS services who hold a statutory responsibility for providing mental health services such as your GP, community mental health team, psychiatrist etc. Any student requiring such a service needs to establish/maintain contact with their relevant service. Our formal role and focus is purely on how your condition may impact on your studies and what support may mitigate any difficulties.

Our specific role is to support you to:-

  • Advise/liaise with academic departments on adjustments if needed with regard to your studies on receipt of medical evidence
  • Assist you with application process for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)*
  • Assist you if your circumstances and current health make study difficult for you

The role of the Wellbeing Service is to enable and empower students with mental health conditions to make positive decisions and choices for themselves. We aim to promote mental wellbeing and be a source of stable advice and support during your academic studies in addition to any other support you are receiving from services with statutory responsibility for managing your care.

If you want to proceed with formally notifying us of your mental health condition or if you would like to speak to someone in confidence about this before making any decision, please complete a registration form and we will be in contact with you. We will not inform any department regarding your condition unless we have your permission to do so.  

* Here is a useful link for DSA information

https://www.dnamatters.co.uk/resources/dsa/intro/

Long Term Support

Long term support for your study is only available through what is called DISABLED STUDENTS ALLOWANCE (DSA), a non means tested support package for UK students. The term DSA can put many people off from applying but it is only called DSA as a long term condition such a mental health condition is defined as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, so is a protected characteristic by law.

Long term support requires application, approval and funding through your relevant student finance body. Details of your relevant application process and forms can be accessed via your student finance website, under ‘support for people with disabilities’.

What sort of support could I get?

Support is tailored according to your individual learning and support needs. This can include IT equipment and software, specialist tutoring, notetaking, book/photocopying allowances and mental health mentoring, which is delivered by the Wellbeing Service team. This support can contribute immensely to your successful study here at Swansea University.

When should I apply for DSA?

The process usually takes around 6-8 weeks with all the correct documentation having been submitted before support can be put in place. Therefore, we always advise you to apply prior to coming to university (you can normally start doing so from April onwards) well in advance of your enrolment if you already have a mental health condition. However, you can apply at any time during your studies if you have the appropriate medical evidence.

I cannot be bothered to fill in the forms right now…

Many people are put off as you have to fill in forms and provide up to date medical evidence of your condition (which does come at a cost via your GP etc). Please note this is a very ill-advised response because:-

  • The benefits of the support on offer far outweigh the relatively small inconvenience and cost of completing an application
  • The support is there for the duration of your studies

If I arrive at the university without DSA they have to give the support anyway don’t they?

This type of support CANNOT be provided by the university without you having been through the process even if you start to experience difficulties. This is because it is funded by Student Finance and is not part of the universities funding. So, for example, we cannot put mentoring in place as the money from Student Finance has not been made available to employ a mentor. We also cannot put any support in place and be paid by Student Finance in retrospect while an application is being processed as the assessments conducted are independent are we cannot second guess what support will be recommended.

I now have DSA but do not know how to arrange the support

If your DSA is in relation to a mental health condition please fill in one of our registration forms stating this is the case and we can direct you to one of our mental health coordinators who can advise you on how to make arrangements for your support.

One of the recommendations is Mental Health Mentoring? What is that?

Mentoring offers you the opportunity to have regular (generally weekly) one to one support with someone who has specialist skills to help you with the following:-

  • Support with managing your mental wellbeing by balancing academic work and health difficulties
  • Help to develop coping strategies and skills to maximise your study potential and allow academic progress e.g.
    - Motivation and goal setting
    - Time management strategies
    - Organisational skills
  • Build on strengths and increase confidence
  • Regular review of the impact of your mental health on your academic progress

Already receiving support from the NHS?

I am already receiving support from NHS services for a mental health condition – what do I need to think about in preparing to come to University?

If you have ongoing care needs for a mental health condition when you come to University, it is useful to think about the following if you are preparing to move away from your home area when coming to Swansea University.  

For conditions supported by a General Practitioner (GP)

  • If you are prescribed medium to long term medication, make an appointment with your GP a few weeks before Arrivals Week so that you don’t have to worry about running out of medication while you wait to register with the campus GP
  • If you have been referred to community mental health services in your home area by your GP and you are still waiting for an appointment, let your GP know that you will be moving to university so they will be aware of where to send correspondence etc

For conditions supported by a Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) or outpatient psychiatric clinics

  • Discuss your plans of coming to university at the earliest opportunity with your service. They are there to support you and can often be a source of help to plan for your transition into university
  • As long as you are happy to give your consent to do so, request that your service makes contact with the Wellbeing Department to speak with the manager or a member of the Mental Health Team. They can advise your service on how to contact local services in the Swansea area if any transfer of care needs to take place
  • They can make the University aware of any adjustments that may be recommended to make to support you

International Students

International students can access the Wellbeing Service as any other enrolled student. The only exception is that you cannot apply for Disabled Students Allowance as this is only open for UK students.

If you have a mental health condition, we do recommend that you contact our service prior to arrival so we can explain to you what support is available and how UK mental health and psychiatric system works.

The UK mental healthcare system is very different to other countries. In particular access to long term therapies such as counselling, psychology and psychotherapy are very difficult and there are long waiting lists. In addition, the Wellbeing Service only offers short term 6 sessions of counselling.

Therefore if you require access to such services we strongly recommend your health insurance covers you for payment and access to such therapies on a private basis.