Information for Parents and Supporters

Information for Parents and Supporters

University can be a challenging time for lots of different reasons and sometimes it is that challenge which helps people to grow and develop.  Sometimes however we can feel worried about our loved ones (whether that be family members, a partner or a friend), especially if they are not reaching out to people and you feel unable to support them.

This page contains general information on supporting someone, links to information on supporting someone with mental health issues as well as links to specific support which is available at Sheffield Hallam.

General Information (adapted from How can I support my child at university? (

Keep in touch

  • Try and keep in regular contact by video chat or messaging. Receiving letters or care packages can be a huge boost so have a think about what home comforts you can send them to enjoy.
  • Talk to the person about things that they think will help them relax and de-stress. This might include hobbies that they have previously enjoyed.
  • Practice active listening with your child. Really pay attention when they talk about how they feel and make sure to validate their feelings. Don’t say things like “I’m sure you will feel better in the morning” or “You just need to get on with it”, as this is unlikely to be helpful to them.
  • Help them to recognise if they’re having anxious and stressful feelings. Saying something like ‘It sounds like you are feeling anxious’ can help people to feel heard
Let them know they're supported
  • Get a steer from your child about how often they would like to chat to you, and follow their lead.
  • Let your child know it’s OK to call you at any time, even in the middle of the night. There are services which are available for people to just listen to someone, even if that is the middle of the night. This page tells you about urgent support which is available to Sheffield Hallam students 
  • Reassuring them that they are not alone and support is available is really important. On this page you will find a number of options for different types of  student support.
  • Encourage them to register with the local GP.
  • Encourage the student to make contact with support services, there is very rarely an issue which we can’t help with but it is important that students let us know that they are struggling.
Concerned about their mental health
  • If you have concerns about your child’s mental health while they are at university suggest having a regular time to check in each day. It can be as small as a WhatsApp message or a call, whatever works for them. You may have to be flexible depending on what they feel comfortable with.
  • Put a safety plan in place with your child. Look at who they can contact on site and by phone when in distress. Is there someone they live with they trust and can turn to? Can they give your number to that trusted person so they can call you if your child feels unable to?
  • If you’re really worried, let them know that if you don’t hear from them you will call the University.
  • We will not contact emergency contacts unless we are very concerned about a student and cannot share information about a student without their permission unless we feel that they are at significant risk and are not able to keep themselves safe. You will find out more about information sharing here.
  • We have a clear process for reporting and responding to safeguarding concerns which you will find here. If you have concerns about safeguarding please email
Specific Issues
  • There is more specific information about a range of issues on our Support topics page
  • For more general information about support which is available in Sheffield, the Mental Health Guide is a very useful resource.
  • If you are a student at Sheffield Hallam, you could sign up for one of our free Look After Your Mate workshops.  These were developed by Student Minds and aim to give you the skills and confidence to support friends who may be struggling.