A view from Oxford from South Park, with a person sat on a bench
A view from Oxford from South Park, with a person sat on a bench

An introduction to a Common Approach to student mental health by Rosalie Chapman, VP Welfare

Rosalie Chapman is Oxford SU's VP Welfare Sabbatical Officer for the 2023-24 academic year. In this blog, Rosalie explains more about the University and colleges' Common Approach to student mental health. 

At Oxford, our community is designed to encourage and support good mental health and wellbeing for students. The student experience at Oxford offers lots of opportunities for you to thrive, grow, and look after your own wellbeing. But, we know that sometimes there can be stresses and challenges too!

The University has set out its Common Approach to Support Student Mental Health to explain how we will provide holistic mental health support during your studies.

What is the common approach?

The Common Approach was created to ensure that each student at Oxford can receive excellent support, regardless of their course or college. We want to make sure that all students have the support and tools to look after their wellbeing, and the Common Approach helps achieve this by letting you know what you can do, and who you can ask for help.

1. Your college is your community, where you can make connections to promote your mental wellbeing. Friends, Peer Supporters, common rooms, sport, clubs, and societies all help you maintain good mental health. Your college also has a welfare team and every college has a welfare lead, and a disability coordinator. You can find out who these contacts are from your college. Your Tutors can also refer you to appropriate support.

2. Your department supports your wellbeing and promotes academic and personal development. The Common Approach expects that each department has a welfare contact – this person can help point you in the right direction if you need welfare support, and a disability coordinator. Your department’s welfare contact and disability coordinator should be listed on their website. Your Supervisor(s) can also refer you to appropriate support.

3. Student Welfare and Support Services is here to help if you’re struggling with your mental health and need a bit more help. This support is confidential (unless you’re at serious risk of harm). Services offer professional advice and includes: the Counselling Service, the Disability Advisory Service, and the Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service, though these are not emergency services (please refer to emergency help). Peer Supporters and Junior deans also get special training from the main Support Services to help you in college.

4. The NHS provides mental health treatment and long-term support. Sometimes you might need more support than the University can provide as an educational institution. If this happens, we can help explain how you can access the most appropriate NHS mental health service.

Most importantly, the Common Approach recognises how you can support your own mental health while studying at Oxford! We want to give you the agency to navigate welfare support, and to make your own decisions when looking after your mental health.

You can look after your mental health in the following ways:

  • Keep in touch with your college and department, and let them know if you need help
  • Seek support when needed (e.g. self-referring to the University Counselling Service or access NHS services)
  • Support your fellow students
  • If you have a mental health disability, register with Disability Advisory Service (DAS) for structured support.

Rosalie Chapman

Rosalie Chapman

If you would like to know more, there is a student version of the Common Approach framework and check out the Ten Top Tips for looking after your mental health.