Most universities (at least in the UK) will provide a range of support services and resources to support you while you are completing your research degree.
The exact nature of these services will vary from university to university. You should also be aware that different universities often use different names to describe the same service. For instance, you might find a service providing counselling in a department called Student Services or Student Wellbeing or Student Affairs or Student Life or a name unique to your university.
Don’t be put off if you can’t locate the support you are seeking right away, it may be hiding under a different name. Ask a member of staff or someone in the Student Union or Guild and they should be able to help you locate what you’re looking for.
Most universities provide a range of services that are specifically dedicated to supporting your wellbeing. These might include a counselling service, a mental health team, a Chaplaincy, wellbeing advisors, a disability team, a health centre and/or advisors on student money and rights.
Sometimes PGR students express concern that these services might be too focussed on the undergraduate student experience, to properly understand the unique journey of a PGR student. As a result they choose not to access this support. However, universities all over the country have been investing resource to improve the support available for research students.
In addition to this, many support services staff are clinical professionals and are used to building an understanding of the experience and world of each individual they work with. Accessing this support is a sensible first step if you begin to experience problems. These services are also confidential and your attendance will not be shared with your supervisor.
Many universities also provide proactive support to help you manage your wellbeing, such as workshops or campaigns. Attending these might help you to identify improvements that you can make to benefit your wellbeing and performance.
Alongside this support for your wellbeing, you may also find that your university provides specific support to help you with your research. We know that the step up to PGR research can be demanding and your university will probably want to help with this. Speak to your Research or Graduate Office about what is available. You may find they provide workshops on research skills, mentors or access to resources.
Finally, you may also find that your Student Union or Guild provides support or services specifically for PGR students.
Take time to search for this support and keep a record of what is available and how to access it. Don’t be afraid to access and use the support if you need it. It is there to help students like you and for no other reason. Don’t feel you have to tough it out alone, work with your university and let them help you to achieve academically and maintain good wellbeing.