This article provides information about tackling low mood and depression, and how to get appropriate support or treatment.

Low mood and depression are very common issues, affecting many students. Depression is a serious and potentially very debilitating condition, which can be life threatening. If you think you may be suffering with depression it is important that you seek help as soon as possible.

It is always advisable to consult your GP if you are feeling persistently low, especially if your daily functioning is significantly affected. It is also advisable to let your personal tutor or course leader know if you are having difficulties affecting your studies - they are there to help, and can offer useful advice and support. Information if you are contemplating harming yourself or need urgent support are also available.

You can learn skills to help you tackle low mood and milder depression, and there is a lot of other support available to start appropriate treatment for moderate to severe depression:


Courses and workshops

The Student Wellbeing Service hosts a range of workshops and courses for learning skills to tackle common issues like low mood and depression. Our popular 'From Stress to Success' course and 'Keep calm and carry on' workshops runs several times a term and there are various other workshops on relevant topics like anxiety, panic, sleep, procrastination, perfectionism, and being more compassionate towards yourself. You may also find it helpful to attend a course on mindfulness.

Workshops can be attended as standalone sessions, to make them more accessible for busy students, but for greater understanding and benefit we have arranged the workshops into rolling programmes based on three key themes: CBT Skills for Life, Being a Better Friend to Yourself, and Mindfulness. Consult our events, courses and workshops programme to find out more.

All students also have free access to a set of short online courses, called SilverCloud, to learn evidence-based strategies for tackling common issues. The Space from Depression course would be a good place to start. These courses can be accessed confidentially and completed independently, in your own time and at your own pace. Find out more and register directly from the online resources article.


Student Wellbeing Service

The Student Wellbeing Service offers confidential help with a wide range of personal and emotional concerns and is available to every student at the University, free of charge. All kinds of students find their way to us from all over the University and for all sorts of reasons. Low mood and depression are one of the commonest reasons for students seeking our help.

The service has three strands: wellbeing advice, counselling, and mental health advice. They are all linked together so when you apply you only have to approach us once – we will sort out which one is most likely to meet your needs. As well as one to one support we offer a programme of events, courses and workshops, online support and resources, and a weekly Wellbeing Cafe.

In addition to the individual support we offer, we also liaise closely with local NHS services and can arrange for you to access the NHS Talking Change talking treatment service via initial sessions on campus.

To contact us or register for support see our article on accessing support from the Student Wellbeing Service. You can also use this registration process to request a place on most of our courses and workshops (subject to availability).

Talking Change

Talking Change is a free NHS service offering supported self-help and talking therapies (mainly cognitive behaviour therapy) for people registered with a Portsmouth GP and with difficulties with anxiety or depression. Self-referral is possible by completing the online referral, or your GP can refer you. You can also access Talking Change on campus, via the Student Wellbeing Service.


Library books

The University library has copies of the following books which could be useful:

  • Addis, M E & Martell, C - Overcoming Depression One Step at a Time - 616.85270651/ADD
  • Germer, C. K - The mindful path to self-compassion : freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions - 153.83/GER
  • Gilbert, P - Overcoming Depression - 616.85270651/GIL
  • Greenberger, D & Padesky, C A - Mind over Mood - 616.89142/GRE
  • Rowe, D - Depression:The Way out of Your Prison - 616.8527/ROW
  • Strohsal, K. D & Robinson, P - The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression - 616.8914/STR
  • Williams, C - Overcoming Depression and Low Mood - 616.85270651/WIL
  • Williams, M et al - The Mindful Way through Depression - 616.85270651/WIL

You can search the Library Catalogue here.


Other resources

If you would like to research more around the topic of depression, the Student Wellbeing Service can recommend the following self help resources:

  • Students Against Depression This comprehensive self-help site offers information about how depression works and why it arises, along with step by step advice for self-help strategies, as well as guidance about getting the most from a variety of sources of support and treatment. It also hosts stories and blogs by students who tell their own stories of low mood and depression and provide tips and advice for dealing with it.
  • Back from the Bluez From a very well-regarded Australian site, these popular downloadable CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) workbooks provide clear, easy to read information along with short exercises and activities to learn and apply skills for tackling common issues - in this case depression. Many students have found these materials helpful.
  • NHS Booklets on Low Mood and Depression This page links to a series of excellent booklets providing information and self-help activities to learn skills for common issues, including low mood, depression, sleeping and self harm.
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists leaflets A number of relevant leaflets from the Royal College of Psychiatrists include: Men and Depression focusing on the experience of depression in men. Antidepressants giving information on antidepressant medication – how it works, why it has prescribed effects and side-effects, and alternatives. Seasonal Affective Disorder describing SAD and the help available. Alcohol and Depression concerning the connection between alcohol and depression. Physical Activity and Mental Health on the usefulness of physical activity for good mental health.
  • Moodscope A free online tool that enables people with depression to help themselves by monitoring their mood daily, based on the idea that simply monitoring something regularly can lead to positive change. Moodscope stores your scores every day, and plots them on a line graph so you can track your ups and downs as time goes by. You can also nominate someone to act as a 'buddy', who receives a daily email of your score so they can follow your progress. (You could also consider using the free Student Wellbeing Service's What’sUp? app for monitoring your mood)
  • BluePages Free evidence-based Australian website providing information and tools related to medical, psychological and lifestyle interventions for depression.
  • MoodGym Australian online training program teaching cognitive behaviour therapy skills for preventing and coping with depression, which has been associated with significant reductions in symptoms of anxiety and depression following the use of two or more modules.
  • Living Life to the Full Free online skills course for people feeling distressed or anxious, which aims to help people understand their difficulties and make helpful changes to thinking, activities, sleep and relationships.

University of Portsmouth Student Wellbeing Service Contact Details:

Phone: +44 (0)23 9284 3466

Location: Nuffield Centre, Second Floor, St Michael's Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2ED

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