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Mental health and wellbeing support

Students’ mental health and wellbeing is a priority at The Open University, and a range of support is on offer throughout your studies. 

Good mental health is a key ingredient for successful study.

It is common to feel stressed or experience difficulties during your study journey.

If you feel that you’re struggling, you can contact us and we will do our best to support you.

Remember, you’re not alone; we currently support over 10,000 students who have told us that they have a mental health difficulty.

These difficulties come in many varied forms and can affect you and your studies in lots of different ways.

There’s two main ways in which we can support you.

Firstly, we will listen to how your studies are being affected and offer solutions to try and give you the support you need.

This comes in many forms such as a chat with your tutor about what areas you should focus on, assignment extensions, rest breaks during exams, mental health mentoring support through Disabled Students’ Allowances, support from other students through online forums, or maybe even taking a break from study.

Secondly, we can direct you to specialised organisations that support people with mental health difficulties.

For example, we partner with Togetherall and Nightline who are both experts in supporting students in this area.

Whatever way you choose to contact us our advisors are standing by to talk things through with you about what might help with your studies and suggest information you can read on how to de-stress or improve your work life study balance.

So you’ll successfully go on to achieve the next step on your learning journey at the Open University.

Our commitment to your mental health

In our Student Mental Health Agreement 2021-23 (.pdf - summary version) we set out with our partners the OU Students Association our commitment to promoting the mental wellbeing of all students. This is supported by the National Union of Students Scotland’s Think Positive Project.

A full version of the Agreement can be accessed here (.pdf)

Our Scotland Agreement reflects the wider OU’s Student and Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2023. This Strategy has been developed in line with Universities UK’s Stepchange framework for mental health in higher education.

Support and resources for studies

Discover the help that’s available: this could include options from your Student Support Team and Tutors such as creating more manageable study timetables and taking rest breaks during exams. You can access guided self-help resources, and the OU Students Association also runs a confidential Peer Support Service. We also offer study skills materials.

Tell us about your mental health

At the OU we support over 10,000 students who have told us they have a mental health difficulty. You can let us know at any time, but early contact is recommended so we can make reasonable adjustments and support you to reach your full potential. You may qualify for mental health mentoring support – find out more

Activities in Scotland

Examples of our activities with/for students include:

  • Introducing the Student Mental Health Agreement by virtual presentation 
  • Online counselling through Togetherall 
  • Holding Big Blether engagement sessions with the OU Students Association and OU staff, piloted with support from the National Union of Students Scotland’s Think Positive Project
  • A Carers’ Bursary and Care Experienced Bursary for help with study-related costs 
  • Promotion of a sector-wide Thriving Learners Survey, run by the Mental Health Foundation for Universities Scotland.  

Mental health partners

You may wish to access wider mental health support, for matters unrelated to studying. Specialised services include Togetherall and Nightline

More resources and help in an emergency

Clear Your Head, Think Positive and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) have further resources on mental health and wellbeing.

In an emergency, call 999, or contact your GP or the Samaritans