Advice for a Concerned Parent/Carer or Friend

Advice for a Concerned Parent/Carer or Friend

You may be concerned about a family member – perhaps a daughter or son – or about a friend of yours who is studying at university with us.

This may be because of a significant change in their behaviour, a lack of motivation, a change in their level of engagement with their course (for example, not working enough or working far too hard), or other choices that the person is making which you feel may not be in their best interests.

The first thing we would advise is that it is okay, and often very helpful, for you to tell the person that you are concerned about them.  It can be very reassuring just to be reminded that you care.  It can also be helpful if you ask them to consider how they have coped with similar situations in the past or ask them to consider what they might advise someone else in their situation to do.

Remind them it can take time to build contacts and connections, but that these are important.  Perhaps suggest that they join a society, try one of our numerous social sports options, or simply ask another student on their course to have a coffee.

If you are the parent, guardian or carer of someone who is studying with us, we understand that you want your daughter/son to feel able to achieve their best. Coming to university can be a big adjustment, both for your daughter/son and for you. All new students will each have a variety of thoughts and feelings during these early weeks at university. This is quite natural – transitions and changes evoke many different reactions. Like anyone else, students can encounter personal or work-related challenges; it is not uncommon for students have periods when they feel homesick and unsure about the choices they have made or find it difficult as they adjust to university life without their usual support networks close by.

Our students have access to many different types of support during their time here, and you may wish to encourage your friend or family member to access these.  These include:

Personal tutors: each student will have been allocated a personal tutor

If you have serious concerns, please encourage your friend or family member to seek support.  In this situation, you can:

If you are a student here yourself, perhaps concerned about a friend or flatmate, make sure that you look after your own wellbeing when supporting your friend. 

Being a friend to someone – for example, offering to take them out for a coffee, and giving them opportunities to talk about how they are feeling – can be very helpful for someone.  However, you should not feel pressured to start offering levels of support which you are not qualified to provide. This is where you need to make sure you are encouraging your friend to access the specialist mental health support services, both inside and outside the University, which are there to help them. 

If you are a student who is finding it difficult to support a friend, remember that our support services are here as much for you as for your friend and you are welcome to register with our Mental Health and Wellbeing Team for support yourself.

As a university, we are limited in what information we would be able to share with you about one of our students, even when the student you are concerned about is a family member or close friend of yours.  This is to protect our students’ privacy, ensure we are working in accordance with data protection legislation and also because it can discourage students from talking to support services in the university if they feel that their information will be shared beyond the university.  This extends to confirming the student status of an individual; in most circumstances, we cannot confirm to a third party whether a person is a current student or not.  We realise that this may be frustrating, but hope you appreciate the reasons for this.

If you contact us about concerns you have about your friend or family member, we may be able to provide you with some general advice about the kinds of support available to students, which you can then share.  In some circumstances, we may be able to contact the student and let them know that you have been in touch with us.