Five practical ways to support your teen through university


Studying at university brings several changes to your child’s life. From moving away to starting new friendships, these new challenges can take its toll on their mental and physical health, especially during a global pandemic. We’re now fast approaching exam season at university, with students expected to experience even more feelings of pressure, anxiety, and worry.


Ahead of University Mental Health Day, Bupa’s new research has found a surge in students searching mental health concerns, as well as seeking support from their university, over the last year.

  • 57% more students turned to Google to search for ‘student support and wellbeing’ in 2021

  • 52% increase for searches on Google for ‘uni depression’

  • 50% more students searched for ‘social anxiety at university’



Why are more students turning to Google for mental health support?


Fatmata Kamara – Specialist Mental Health Adviser at Bupa UK – says, “starting university is challenging enough, but with the added pressure of a pandemic, we can understand why there are more searches for mental health conditions affecting students. There’s also been a rise in searches for support. Opening up and realising you need support is often the hardest part, so it’s positive to see more students are searching for ways to get help.


Students are at a higher risk of developing mental health problems, so it’s important to be aware of the signs your child may need some support, particularly during and after university. If your child is struggling with their mental health, they may become withdrawn, find it difficult to focus on conversations, or lose interest in activities they’ve previously enjoyed.


We must keep raising awareness of the wellbeing support available for young people to break the stigma surrounding mental health and make it as possible for students to access it.”




Five simple ways to support your teen through their university journey, according to Bupa’s mental health expert, Fatmata Kamara:


1. Home is always there for them


Moving away from home can be tough at any age, and it’s understandable to miss something when you’re away. A new situation requires adjustment, but not everyone finds it easy to adapt. So, reassure your child that home will always be there, whenever they need to come back, and that you’ll see them soon.


2. Keep in touch


Starting university is a new independent challenge. Check in regularly and see if they’re enjoying the experience, or if they’re struggling with some aspects of their new life.


Regardless of how long or short the phone calls, texts and emails are, your child will likely feel at ease, knowing you’re here for them. It will also give you comfort to hear they’re settling in well, as it’s a new chapter for you too.


A particularly stressful time for students is exam season, so reassure them and let them know that you are proud of them whatever the outcome.



3. Take an interest


Life at university is a new and exciting experience. Take an interest by asking your child about their new experience, and what they’re enjoying. Learn about their new friendships and anything interesting about their course.


You should encourage them to take part in social activities, as it’s a great opportunity for them to meet new people.



4. Research the available support


Every university has support for students’ health and wellbeing. Before they venture off to their new challenge, find out what support is available, and who your child should speak to if they have a problem. It can ease both their worry and uncertainty, and you’ll know what services are available too. These are often found on the university’s website, or you could ring them up to find out more.


You may also find it helpful to research their new area together, to understand what local services are available to them.



5. Help your child prepare for their new challenge


You can help your teen prepare for their new life at university by teaching them valuable skills. From advice on how to budget, to showing them how to cook, these skills can make a difference to your child settling in.


As well as the practical side, you could offer advice on coping techniques for stressful situations (for example mindfulness or other relaxation techniques) and the importance of a regular routine full of healthy food and regular exercise.


Source: Bupa UK