Mental health support

Everyone struggles to cope at some point in their lives. In fact, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem this year.

Here you'll find our resource library which contains lots of useful websites and downloads that can help you where to start. 

Where do I go for immediate help?

If you are feeling suicidal and/or feel like you are struggling - there is help out there. For advice and information aimed at helping you understand how you are feeling, possible causes and learning how to cope, visit the Mind website.

If you need urgent help, visit our page on what to do next. 

Who can I talk to, now?

If you would like to talk to someone about how you are feeling and get things off your chest, Samaritans offer a free helpline on 116 123. They are trained to listen and are open 24/7. 

What support is right for me?

If you feel like you'd like some form of support but not sure where to start, visit our services page which will help you find what support is available in your area and what to do next. If you're still unsure and would like to speak to someone about your options, contact us on 01642 257020 Monday-Friday 12pm-4pm. 

If you would like to find out more about mental health, discrimination support or housing and benefits, Mind have an extensive A-Z information guide with downloadable PDFs. 

Wellbeing Courses

We also offer short workshops that can help you relax, reduce your stress and manage your depression and anxiety. You'll come away with self-help tools that you can use whenever you need to. Find out more about the workshops by clicking here

Online Community


If talking isn't your thing, there's a free online chat room where you can message like-minded people and it is monitored by trained staff who can offer help and advice. Join Elefriends.

You can also visit our blog which contains dozens of real-life stories from local people sharing their tips, advice and how they manage their mental health conditions. There's some blog posts at the bottom of this page.


How can Mindfulness help? This video explains how you can include it in your daily life.

Do you know someone who may have a mental health issue?

Being open to mental health doesn’t have to be awkward and being there for someone can make a huge difference to their life. If you're not sure where to start if its a family member, friend or colleague - click here. You can also visit our services page to see which support might be right for them and can help begin that conversation.

Useful Numbers

  • Anxiety UK - 03444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)
  • National Mind - 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
  • No Panic - 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm)
  • OCD UK - 0845 120 3778 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)
  • SANE - 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30-10.30pm)
  • YoungMinds - 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)

Are you passionate about making a difference?

Do you have lived experience of mental ill health and would like to break the stigma attached to it? Become a Time to Change Champion and meet like-minded people and campaign together to change attitudes and behaviour. 

You can also visit our current volunteer roles which offer flexible ways to support people and make a difference to your local community.

Coping with anxiety, depression and uni life

When I started university, I was completely oblivious to the fact I was suffering from clinical depression and anxiety. I’d always had a tendency to feel a bit more stressed out and upset than the average person, a trait which came to a head when I was 17; for the first two months of Year 13, I found myself feeling too low… Continue readingWhen I started university, I was completely oblivious to the fact I was suffering from clinical depression and anxiety. I’d always had a tendency to feel a bit more stressed out and upset than the average person, a trait which came to a head when I was 17; for the first two months of Year 13, I found myself feeling too low to eat, sleep, or function at all. However, I’d never had any formal education about mental health issues, and it wasn’t something that my family really talked about. I was resigned to the fact that I was probably just a silly, over-emotional person, and that I really just needed to pull myself together. I’d never been told otherwise; I had no idea that my low moods and anxious thoughts could be part of a medical condition. In my mind, it was all my fault, and I needed to just stop feeling the way I did.

Then first year came along, and it became more and more apparent that something wasn’t quite right. People often underestimate just how emotionally draining it can be when you’re thrown into this totally new territory of lectures, seminars, formals, socials, and having to fend for yourself. Yes, it’s exciting, but it’s also an anxious person’s worst nightmare. You suddenly have to navigate making a whole new set of friends, looking after yourself both physically and emotionally, and getting used to the new academic system of lectures and seminars: what could possibly go wrong?! In the mind of an anxious or depressed person, the answer to that question is everything. You find yourself obsessing over everything that could possibly turn out badly for you, and, especially when you don’t have a formal diagnosis, you have no idea how to make all of those thoughts stop.

In hindsight, depression and anxiety controlled almost every aspect of my life as a fresher. I struggled with work because the constant stream of negative thoughts and anxiety attacks made concentration a near impossibility. I struggled with making friends, because my depression was constantly telling me that it was a pointless endeavour- it wasn’t like anyone would want to be friends with someone as worthless as me. Going on a night out was out of the question: the mere thought of being in a crowd was enough to trigger a panic attack. But worse than any of this was the fact that nobody knew the extent to which I was struggling. I managed to project an image of someone who was calm, collected and basically fine, but then in second year, the façade began to crack.

When depression and anxiety is left untreated, it’s like an avalanche hurtling down a mountain. It gains speed and it gains power until one day it comes crashing down, leaving destruction in its wake. My avalanche hit at the start of second year. The added stresses of living out only made my anxiety worse- you try staying calm when an estate agent tells you it’s your job to fix the boiler and restore hot water to your house EIGHT TIMES- and in the end, I simply ground to a halt, consumed by constant panic, inescapable low moods, and suicidal thoughts. The delicate balance I’d crafted between academia, social life, life in general and my emotional wellbeing just wasn’t working any more, and something had to change.

While being at university undoubtedly made life more difficult depression-wise, it also provided the easiest access to help I’ve ever come across. After talking with college office, my department, a GP and the counselling service, I finally found a course of action that firstly helped me understand what I was actually going through, and then began to resolve it. Talking to someone- specifically, my senior tutor- was the best decision I’ve ever made regarding my illness. When I realised there were people out there that understood what I was going through and were willing to help, it took away some of the shame, the guilt, and, most importantly, the sense of isolation that depression can bring.

A year on, I’m undoubtedly more emotionally well than I’ve ever been while at university. The road to recovery was a long and rocky road, but my story is the perfect testimony that things can get better. Things aren’t perfect- depression and anxiety will be with me for the rest of my life, and they still rear their unwanted heads at the most inopportune of times. But I’ve finally learned how to manage the combination of university life and living with a mental illness. We’re lucky at Durham that we have such a strong welfare support network, and I’m personally lucky to have such an amazing group of understanding friends and family. But there’s still a long way to go. There are still people out there who are too scared to ask for help, and still stigma that needs to be overcome. But the more we talk about mental illness, the more people will feel comfortable and supported enough to seek help. That’s why I decided to tell my story: if it makes even one person suffering from depression and anxiety that things can and do get better, it’s worth it.

Self-Care for Mental Illness

Mental illness is really bloody hard. Unless you’ve been through it, you won’t really have any understanding as to what it’s like. Heck, even when suffering, you have no idea what another person is going through. All you can really do is empathise. But, I’ll try and do a different post on how to help someone with mental… Continue readingMental illness is really bloody hard. Unless you’ve been through it, you won’t really have any understanding as to what it’s like. Heck, even when suffering, you have no idea what another person is going through. All you can really do is empathise. But, I’ll try and do a different post on how to help someone with mental illnesses in the future. For now, I’ll stick to self-care. Obviously, this won’t work for everyone, but in the past eight years, you could say I’ve tried a lot of different things, read a lot of different books and websites, talked to lots of different people and these are what work for me.

1. Rest
Rest is the greatest tool for any type of illness. If you have a common cold, the first thing you’re told is to get as much rest as possible to allow your body to repair itself, that’s what it’s there for. Why should the brain not get the same attention? I recently read a book called ‘Depressive Illness‘ by Dr. Tim Cantopher who recommends rest very strongly, and I wholeheartedly agree.

No one quite knows exactly how the brain works yet, which is why there are so many different treatments for the vast array of mental illnesses, but recuperating in a safe place can’t be the worst thing to do at all. Making sure that I’m safe and well, however long that takes, is the easiest and safest option I have. In basic terms, sleep is a bloody life-saver and will help you so much.

2. Binging Netflix
I’m renowned for watching TV series in a matter of days, often repeatedly. It may seem to an outsider that this is because I bloody love Orange is the New Black (for the record – I do). That’s not the main reason though. It blocks out all the bad stuff that tries to control my life. It helps me to try and focus – albeit not very well, hence the rewatching – on something other than what my brain is telling me, all the insecurities and anxieties and thoughts that may try and enter. I’ll admit, it doesn’t always work at blocking things out, but it serves it’s purpose most of the time. If finding out what happens to Walt White in Season 5 of Breaking Bad blocks out the darkness, even just for 47 minutes, I’m 100% down with that.

3. Reading
Similar to the last point, reading blocks everything out. I’ve always been one of those readers who gets lost in a book and has to finish it the same day (probably why I’ve read more this year than any other year since I was about 10). It’s a method of escapism from your own mind. I literally can’t think of anything else but the book I’m reading and that is excellent, I honestly couldn’t wish for anymore – except obviously when the book finishes and I get that empty void (until the next one). If you want to see what I’m reading at the moment, you can add me on Goodreads. Basically, reading shuts out EVERYTHING and doesn’t allow for anything else – which is great if that’s what you’re aiming for.

4. Music
Now, this is a tricky one. I have a lot of songs that really trigger me, and I’ve learnt that it’s fine to listen them to get out all those emotions that I need to get out at the time. But not all the time. Music can be really helpful though, and I’m trying to focus on the good songs that pull you out of that awful place. Arctic Monkeys (fave band ever!) always seem to get me into a great mood however I’m feeling, they’ve saved my life countless times. *Also recommend 60s Soul for pulling you out of any dark place and feeling like you’re on top of the world.* It doesn’t matter what time of day, where I am, who I’m with – all you need to do is pop in your earphones and everything can change. I guess that’s the whole point of music, to make you feel something, whether it be sadness, happiness or pumped for life.

5. Projects
I don’t care what your project is. When I came out of hospital, I started the #100DaysOfMakeup on Instagram because it meant that for 100 days, I had to do something every single day. It wasn’t to showcase my makeup abilities or anything like that, it was a reason to stay alive. I set myself a challenge and had to accomplish it, because I’m just that stubborn. My new project is going to be painting my bedroom. Your project could be anything, from collecting all the Pokémon on Pokémon Go (gotta catch ’em all and all that) to making sure you brush your teeth twice a day for the next 10 days, it can be literally anything. It gives you a reason to be here, it gives you a reason to persevere against those bad thoughts. Whatever you want to do, go for it, there’s no reason not to and you CAN do it.

6. A Bath
This is probably the heading that sounds the most boring, I agree. Though, when you’re at your worst, bathing doesn’t seem like the most essential thing. Do it. Have a bath, throw in that Lush bath bomb you were saving for a special occasion, borrow your mother’s bath salts if you have to. You deserve it, your body that’s keeping you going – despite your brain’s attempts to salvage it – deserves it. Whilst soaking your body, you’ll find it does wonders to your mind as a pleasant side-effect.

7. Avoidance
Avoidance isn’t the best tactic in the world, and shouldn’t be the one you turn to for the long term. But it helps me. Avoiding things, places, people, anything that I know will trigger me and keep me safe is one of the most important pieces of self-care I’ve learnt. Would I (my friends, my family, anyone) prefer to be in somewhere they find comfort or somewhere where they know they could relapse/breakdown/not be very comfortable at all? Obviously the former – if you chose the latter, you’re a little daredevil and I very strongly admire you. Taking care of yourself, first and foremost, is the most important thing, because when you get down to it, if you’re not there then there really isn’t any point. Saying this, I regularly push myself out of my comfort zone – even if it’s just to go into town alone and reward myself with a Starbucks sugar-free vanilla soya latte. But, if you know it will cause you harm, just don’t do it. If you need to avoid it because it will make you worse, then avoid it, no point in harming your own recovery.

8. Support Network
For a long time, I didn’t feel like I had any support network at all. I’d barricaded myself in my safe place, my room, for so long that I felt like I’d lost everything, everyone. Slowly, I’m trying to reconnect with the people I’d shut out for so long and that’s making me feel a lot better. You’ll realise that people want to help and care for you. I know that blackness in your mind says that you’re not worth it but if you try, people will understand (except from those who are so ignorant – but you don’t need those in your life anyway). Even if you feel there is no one you can speak to, or that you don’t want anyone to know what you’re feeling, you can email me at or tweet me, no judgement and I’ll try and reply as soon as possible. People do care for you and want to support you as much as possible.


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