Student support for disabilities & mental health problems

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Health Assured team

19 January 2022

Figures from the Office for Students show that more than one in eight students have declared at least one disability. The good thing is—universities are starting to recognise the need for extra student support. Mental health and wellbeing support services are now more widely available, and universities are taking steps to make facilities accessible for everyone

Still, some students might be unsure of the different support options out there, or feel hesitant about accessing them. This guide explains some of the different options available and how they can help you succeed in your studies. 

Financial support to help you succeed 

Depending upon your needs, you might be able to apply for a Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA). You must live in England and have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, physical disability, sensory disability, or long-term health condition. This financial support can help you with extra costs for things that might improve your learning experience. 

For example, the Disabled Student’s Allowance could help you to pay for:

  • Equipment you need in class (e.g. a laptop)
  • An interpreter or note taker
  • A mentor or tutor 
  • Extra travel requirements 
  • Disability-related support (e.g. coloured notebooks or extra printing services) 

There are some eligibility criteria you’ll need to meet to receive the allowance, and in some cases, you might need to book a needs assessment too. The assessment will help you understand the types of equipment and support best suited to you. If you’re planning on applying for the DSA, make sure you do this as soon as possible. It can take some time for Student Finance England to process these applications. You’ll be able to access all the details via the Government website

Explore what’s on offer at your university 

Every university has a disability officer who can help you access a range of support services. The type of support available will vary between different universities—so it’s worth exploring the options. Many universities have counselling services or Student Assistance Programmes in place that can help you with a range of issues.

These services allow you to speak confidentially with a qualified counsellor and get things off your chest. From coping with change and feelings of anxiety to low mood and money worries, you can talk to a counsellor about anything. Opening up about your feelings can seem daunting at first, but talking to others can help you get through difficult times. 

Adjustments you might benefit from 

There are a range of adjustments you can enquire about at your university. These adjustments could boost your experience of your university life and studies. The adjustments that will help are likely to be unique to you and your individual needs. So it’s a good idea to talk to the university about what they can do for you. Potential adjustments include: 

  • Taking exams in a quiet place to avoid distraction 
  • Extended loan periods for books 
  • More preparation time and support with assignments 
  • Regular tutor meetings to discuss progress and any problems


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