The student guide to mental wellbeing during the second lockdown

THIS year has been crazy; a worldwide pandemic has been unspeakably difficult for billions of people across the globe – not least for students living away from home.

If you’re finding this a scary and upsetting time, we’ve put together what we hope is a page of helpful advice and support sources.


THERE are approximately 20,000 students studying at the University of Sunderland, across all campuses, and each of those students are going to handle the second lockdown differently from one another.

Ashley Cave, from the University of Sunderland’s Wellbeing Team, said: “The main thing I think is just reminding people to talk to others, whether it’s on Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, the phone, just remember to reach out to others, as the lack of social contact can be crippling for so many people.”

It is important that, even though there are many things that may help your wellbeing, you speak to a professional if you’re feeling extremely low, or feel as though you need some extra support.

With the help of the UoS Wellbeing team, and NHS-approved advice, we have put together information to help students through the current restrictions.


Here is SR News’ guide to surviving lockdown!



It is completely normal to feel anxious about the virus and everything that has changed because of it.

Some ways to help deal with it may be to:

  • Limit Covid news coverage
    Constantly checking the news may make your anxiety worse, but setting a time limit on how long you spend reading or watching the news about coronavirus may help reduce anxiety and stress levels.
  • Concentrate on the facts
    Make sure you’re getting your information from reliable sources, and be cautious of social media coverage.
  • Distract yourself
    Play games, read books, watch movies or indulge in any other activities you enjoy doing.
  • Connect with others
    Reach out to friends and family, particularly when you’re struggling, and share your fears, or just have a chat.
  • Hold on to hope
    This will end, but for now we have to keep the big picture in mind – so remember, we will get through this.



It’s important to remember that social distancing is about physical distance, not emotional distance.

You’re allowed to meet up with one person from another household outdoors, and you can still talk to people online and over the phone.

Connecting with people and sharing your worries is vital for improving your mental wellbeing. It may also be helpful to:

  • Stay healthy
    Eat as healthily as you can, and drink plenty of water. Stay active indoors, using online exercise programmes. You can also exercise outdoors, and getting fresh air can be great for your health. Maintaining a good sleeping pattern and ensuring you get enough sleep will also help you keep a clear mind.
  • Keep your mind active
    It’s a great time to find a new hobby, so now is the time to get creative! Draw, colour, make a playlist, bake, write a song, learn the guitar, learn to cook, try a new exercise. There are thousands of online courses to try, and now is the perfect time to give them a go!
  • Avoid drugs and excessive alcohol
    It’s easy to fall into unhealthy coping patterns that make you feel worse – so avoid using drugs or alcohol to make you ‘feel better’.



It’s important to recognise that some people will feel so overwhelmed that they need professional support. Whether you are struggling to cope with difficult emotions, or are having self-harmful thoughts, there is hope and you are not alone.

  • Share your feelings
    Talk to a friend or family member.
  • Speak to someone who is trained to listen
    If you find it hard to find the right words, contact organisations like the Samaritans on 116 123, or other telephone/text helplines. You can talk to them about whatever’s getting to you, in your own way and in your own time, and they can also help you explore the range of help available.
  • Contact your GP or ring NHS 111
    Be open about how you are feeling. Talk to a friend and plan what you want to say, and if possible, get someone you live with to accompany you.
  • Go somewhere you feel safe
    If it’s possible, within the paramaters of social distancing (the rules say you can meet one other person at a time from another household, in an outdoors public place, such as a park, a street, countryside, an allotment or a children’s playground).



For many people, working and studying from home is becoming the new norm. However, it can be difficult to remain productive and focus.

  • Getting ready for the day…
    can help put you in the right mind-set to be active and productive. Dress like you’re going into work or into university, and it’ll help you approach the day positively.
  • Make a list of small, achievable goals every day
    Studies show that if you write something down, you’re far more likely to complete the task you set out to do.
  • Get fresh air
    During a break, or at the end of your day, go for a short walk to get some fresh air. Or even go into your garden for refreshing few minutes.
  • If you’re struggling to cope…
    Speak to any colleagues, fellow students or tutors. They may offer advice to help you overcome any issues.



It’s important to look out for friends and family, as well as yourself.

Be vigilant – in the absence of face-to-face contact it’s more important than ever to find other ways to check-in with our friends and colleagues, to keep contact and to offer support to those around us.

Make sure to:

  • Be aware
    Watch for the warning signs that someone might be struggling. This is more challenging during the Covid-19 crisis, and we may need to be more pro-active about checking in with others by phone and online.
  • Trust your instincts
    Ask the person directly how they are doing. If necessary, ask twice. “Are you really OK?” If you feel they may be struggling, let them know that you are worried about them and that you care.
  • Give them time and space to talk and be helpfully nosy
    During the Covid-19 crisis you may need to do more of this by telephone and online – one of the greatest supports you can offer people is simply your time and willingness to listen to their issues and offer support and what advice you can.
  • Check-in
    Keep checking in and letting the person know you are there for them: knowing someone cares can make all the difference.



Whatever problems you are facing Samaritans are there to listen 24/7.

  • SHOUT – Text Shout to 85258

Crisis text service for support with any mental health concern 24/7.

Helpline for men of all ages 5pm – Midnight.

Information, friendship and advice for older people 24/7.

Advice for parents and carers worried about a young person 9.30-4pm Mon-Fri.

Crisis text support for under 25s 24/7.

Support and advice for Young People. 9am-10pm Mon-Fri. 2-10pm Weekends. Advice and support for under 25s 4-11pm.

Support currently available 9am-Midnight and online 1-2-1 chat

For NHS advice and referral for any health or mental health related issues 24/7.



If you want to find out what support is available in your area, and you would prefer to speak to someone, please call your local council on the relevant number below.

Sunderland – 0800 234 6084

Cumbria – 0800 783 1966

Northumberland – 01670 620 015

Newcastle – 0191 277 8000

North Tyneside – 0345 2000 101

Gateshead – 0191 433 7112

South Tyneside – 0191 424 7575

County Durham – 03000 260 260

Darlington – 01325 405 000

Hartlepool – 01429 272 905

Stockton-on-Tees – 01642 524 500

Middlesbrough – 01642 729 777

Redcar & Cleveland – 01642 774 774

North Yorkshire – 01609 780 780

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