Concerned about a student?
Health and wellbeing
Are you concerned about a University of Portsmouth student? You may be a fellow student, a member of staff, a concerned parent or family member, or a medical professional wishing to make a referral.
The Student Wellbeing Service offers a consultation service for anyone who is concerned about the mental health or wellbeing of a Portsmouth student. Please call or email via our main contact details and explain to the admin team that you would like raise a concern. We aim to put you in touch with a duty practitioner on the same day if at all possible.
Our consultation services will:
- Record third party concerns
We welcome third party information raising any concerns about a student and will make a note of the information on our confidential record system. The collated information may contribute to decisions we make about how best to support a student. Unless you are a fellow student, if we agree to take proactive action we will usually tell the student who has contacted us and what they have told us.
- Explain our service in general terms
It is important that students using our service can be confident that we maintain confidentiality. We can explain how our service works in general terms, but we will not share information about any particular student without their explicit consent to do so. The exception to this is if we have concerns about serious harm coming to a student and we need to share information with others who can contribute to keeping the student (or others students) safe.
- Discuss how you can support the student
Our consultation service will also help you think through what you can do in whatever supportive role you play with the student. As someone who knows the student, you could play an important role in helping them understand and engage with any additional support they may need.
- Help you recognise the limits of your responsibility
It can be very stressful and worrying to support someone who is experiencing a crisis or mental health difficulties, and you may find it a relief to talk things through and be reassured that you have done all you can. There is a limit to what someone else can do to keep another person safe and it is important to take care of your own wellbeing too. If you are a fellow student we will usually encourage you to book an appointment with us to make sure you are getting all the support you need.
Information for University of Portsmouth staff can be found on our intranet web pages.
If you have experienced or witnessed an incident of harassment, bullying, discrimination or violence involving a University of Portsmouth student or staff member we encourage you to report this via our Speak UP process. You will have the opportunity to provide a name and contact details to get advice and support for next steps, or you can make an anonymous report if you wish.
More on information sharing
As part the University of Portsmouth Student Charter students are encouraged to make use of strong partnerships and support networks to achieve their personal, academic and career goals. As part of our distinctive Wellbeing for Learning philosophy we actively encourage students to map their support networks and to strengthen all their supportive connections.
When students are receiving support at the Student Wellbeing Service, we work collaboratively with them to consider and make additional use of all relevant sources of support. This includes active encouragement to tell key members of their support network when they are experiencing difficulties, and to involve parents and other family members whenever relevant. We also proactively ask and encourage them to give their consent to share concerns with others who can contribute to keeping them safe.
When the University may share your information
The University of Portsmouth has a longstanding practice of asking all students to provide a name and contact details for a family member or other suitable responsible person that we can contact if we have serious concerns about their welfare. Such concerns would include the accumulation of triggers such as non-attendance at lectures, seminars or other academic activities, a reduction in academic progress, difficulties in accommodation, deterioration of mental health, or hospital admission.
A decision for the University to contact a student’s Emergency contact is always considered carefully and taken with the advice of professional staff from the Student Wellbeing Service (SWS) and other relevant senior staff. We would always aim to contact others with the student’s explicit consent, but would do so without consent if we thought this was in their best interests, or would help to keep them safe.
In the first instance any concerns from staff or students at the university or third parties will be raised with the SWS through their consultation service. Advice and guidance will be given on the best course of action and what to do next.
The SWS will gather all relevant information and make contact with the student, when necessary, to identify individuals in their life who could provide helpful support, such as family members, partners and/or friends. When necessary, staff will support those students to make contact with families or others to explain the problem they are having. This may involve planning out conversations or, for example, a practitioner joining a student on a phone call, or in a meeting with a family member, to support disclosure.
This leaves the control of sharing with the student, but also mobilises their external resources. This practice is consistent with national guidance, which encourages practitioners to work with families and the individual, when the individual wishes it and it is in their interests to do so.
Whether or not to share information, should be based on an assessment by a suitably qualified and trained practitioner of: the level of risk, balancing the factors of the whole situation, what else can be done to reduce risk, whether the student has mental capacity, and whether sharing information without consent will reduce or has the potential to increase risk.
Where and to whom information is shared should be part of this risk assessment, and should consider emergency services, statutory services, GPs, families and others. Our position regarding information sharing is based on best practice identified in the University Mental Health Charter (Student Minds).