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University Counselling Service

Student Counselling
 

How to refer students to the Mental Health Advice Service 

Student access to the Mental Health Advice Service is by staff-referral only.

To refer a student, please fill out the online referral form (staff log-in required).

The referral form can only be completed by a member of College or University staff supporting the student, with the student’s consent. Referrals can be made by staff in a range of roles, including:

  • Tutors
  • College nurses
  • Directors of Studies
  • Postgraduate supervisors or advisers 
  • Disability advisers
  • Welfare advisers
  • Counsellors
  • Chaplains
  • Staff at the NHS First Response Service 

Only currently registered students of the University living in the UK may be referred to the service.

Students who wish to speak to a mental health adviser (MHA) are advised in the first instance to contact a wellbeing adviser, their Tutor, or the College nurse to discuss whether a referral would be suitable.

When to refer a student to the Mental Health Advice Service

The Mental Health Advice Service is not a crisis service. Please follow the linked information on crisis support if there is an immediate risk that: 

  • the student is having increased thoughts about life not being worth living 
  • the student is feeling unable to cope 
  • the student is thinking about harming themselves or others 

The service can provide post-crisis care for students, which can be helpful in prolonging times between crises or in avoiding crises altogether. 

Reasons to refer a student to the Mental Health Advice Service include if students: 

  • have diagnosis of a major mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and are struggling to manage their mental health 
  • are having thoughts about suicide, plans to act on these thoughts or previous suicide attempts 
  • are deliberately harming themselves and causing injuries that need medical attention 
  • are feeling out of control or feeling more anxious than usual 
  • are engaging in impulsive behaviours that cause them harm or puts them or others in dangerous situations 
  • are experiencing major changes in their mood or behaviour 
  • are having very unusual beliefs or thoughts which may disturb or frighten them or others 
  • are seeing or hearing things that other people cannot 
  • have rapid weight loss due to changes in appetite or restricting food intake 
  • are not taking care of themselves as they usually would 
  • have experienced a traumatic event that is impacting their wellbeing or behaviour 
  • have attended A&E or engaged with the First Response Service multiple times but do not receive ongoing support via the NHS

What will happen after a student is referred? 

The intake team will assess whether support from an MHA is appropriate. If it is, an appointment will be offered to the student. Where possible, students will be offered an appointment within 5 working days. 

In some cases, the intake team may contact the referrer to discuss other options, if support from a MHA may not be the best option for the student. 

MHAs provide up to 8 sessions of solution focussed interventions. This might include practical approaches such as safety planning, relapse prevention and liaison with healthcare providers. They also provide students with tools to self-manage and mitigate the impact of their mental health issues on their lives.  

The MHAs are mental health clinicians, but they are not therapists or doctors. The interventions offered aim to stabilise students and restore functionality. MHAs cannot provide diagnostic services or prescriptions for medication. 

In some cases, the MHA will refer a student for therapy from the University Counselling Service, or advise a student to seek advice from a medical doctor to consider if medication would be appropriate.

What about confidentiality? 

Students can only be referred to the service with their consent. The Mental Health Advice Service will inform the referrer whether or not the student has attended appointments with the service, but the details of sessions will remain confidential unless the student consents to further information sharing.

There may be instances where it is necessary to share information with other professionals, where the student is considered to be at risk to themselves or to others.

Contact the team

You can contact the MHAs by email on mhas@studentsupport.cam.ac.uk.