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Stress is a normal human response to threat. When we experience a threatening situation, our brain triggers our fight, flight, freeze response. Some events cause stress such as exams, job interviews or moving to a new place. This type of stress is considered normal.

When stress happens our bodies experience a physiological response. Our heart rate quickens, breathing increases, muscles become tense, our body releases hormones cortisol and adrenaline. If somebody is stressed constantly, their bodies remain in a high state of alert, causing them to be constantly flooded with these hormones and feeling ‘on edge’. This is often referred to as toxic stress.

How they might feel

Someone who is experiencing stress may:

  • Feel overwhelmed
  • Feel irritable and “wound up”
  • Feel anxious or fearful
  • Lack in self-esteem
  • Have racing thoughts
  • Have headaches
  • Have muscle tension or pain
  • Have dizziness

Things you might observe

If someone else is stressed you may notice some of the following behaviour/symptoms:

  • They are having difficulty sleeping
  • They are feeling tired all the time
  • They are constantly worrying
  • They are having difficulty concentrating
  • They are having difficulty making decisions

Sometimes these symptoms can be present when somebody is suffering from a physical condition such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, epilepsy, Thyroid problems or another condition which causing similar symptoms, so it is important to consider other causes of these symptoms rather than assuming it is being caused my mental health.

Watch the video from Edge Hill student Rachel where she talks about how she felt stressed after taking on too much. Rachel explains how her tutor supported her and helped her to prioritise her tasks to help reduce her stress and make things more manageable.

If a student requires support but is not at immediate risk:

  • Validate how the student is feeling, such as “you sound like you have a lot going on” or “I can see you are feeling stressed”.
  • Identify with the student what is causing them to feel stressed, such as “what’s causing you the most stress at the moment?” or “do you know what’s causing you to feel stressed?”.
  • Allow the student to consider solutions that may help them by asking open questions, such as“What would help you to feel less stressed?” or “What part of the course is making you feel most stressed?”
  • If the stress is related to their course reassure them that it is common to feel this way and help them consider how to prioritise / manage their tasks.
  • Identify what practical support could be considered to support the student and help to reduce their stress.
  • If the student requires a referral for specific issues for example they are struggling with money worries, have an accommodation issue or their issues are complex then consider the routes in the ‘How to Refer’ section. Seek the student’s consent to refer and explain that they can also self-refer to Student Services.
  • Ask the student if they are registered with a GP. If they are not, the Wellbeing webpages have information on registering with a local GP. If they are, recommend that the student makes an appointment.
  • If the stress they are experiencing has led them to unhealthy coping habits such as drinking or self-harm, refer to one of our specific toolkits for ways to support them.
  • Make sure the student is aware of how to contact the Mental Health & Wellbeing Team and what they should do if at any point they feel they cannot keep themselves safe.
  • Consider reasonable adjustments to support the student and alleviate stress. Contact the Inclusion team for advice on this if required on 01695 657568 (extension 7568).
  • Don’t dismiss or minimise the student’s feelings of stress, such as “what are you getting stressed for?” or “Try not to stress yourself out”.
  • Don’t assume that the student requires specialist support for stress, particularly if it is related to external pressures outside of their course, for example, family issues.
  • The student may just need a listening ear.
  • Don’t promise confidentiality.
  • Don’t feel you have to provide specialist support to the student if they do require this for more complex issues.

Refer a student if:

  • You feel you can no longer provide practical advice or support to the student.
  • You feel the student requires more specialist support.
  • You feel the student is at immediate risk to themselves or others.

If you believe the student is an imminent risk to themselves or others ideally do not let them leave your office or teaching room. Contact the Catalyst Helpdesk on 01695 650800 (extension 7800) and ask them to put you through to the Duty Wellbeing Adviser in Student Services. If it is out of hours, contact Campus Support on 01695 584227 (extension 4227).

If a student is an immediate risk to themselves, you do not need consent of the student to refer them for additional support.

If a student is not at immediate risk to themselves but requires specialist support, you must obtain their consent to refer them to any of the following services as appropriate:

Team NameSupport OfferedContact Details
Academic RegistryProvide advice on and processing of course changes: transferring course/university, repeating a year, module changes, changing mode of study,

01695 584803
Accommodation teamProvide advice/guidance about accommodation both on and off campus, including hall fee

01695 650800
Campus LifeEnsure that students live in a safe/secure environment on campus. Promote and organise events to help students make the most of their time here and administrate the Disciplinary

01695 657570
Campus SupportProvides 24/7 support and security on campus.01695 584227
CareersProvide advice and support with career planning, job hunting, CV writing, volunteering and maximising work

01695 650800
ChaplaincyProvides both staff and students of all faiths and none with pastoral support. Activities/events focus on friendship, community, support and

01695 650800
Counselling (assessed through the Wellbeing team)Referral always via the Wellbeing team. Also provide group workshops and 1:1 therapeutic support to help students find solutions to issues they are

01695 650988
Disability and InclusionProvide advice and support for students with physical/sensory/mental health, autism spectrum disorders or other additional needs. Also provide advice and guidance on reasonable adjustments and support available. Support for specific learning needs – including dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD can be found via the Library and Learning Services SpLD

01695 657568

01695 650800

Law clinicProvide a free clinic to all staff and students run by Year 3 law students who can advise on legal questions or difficulties such as support with housing contract and employment law for example.Law Clinic
Money AdviceProvide advice on all money-related matters including student funding, budgeting, and the Student Support

01695 650800
Students’ UnionProvides representation for students and promotes and hosts activities/events. Provides advice and support to students on various issues including academic, housing, and

01695 657327
Student Support TeamTargeted support for Care Experienced and Estranged Students (CEES). Advice and support for all students who are thinking of leaving or at risk of withdrawing or being withdrawn.

01695 650800
Wellbeing teamFirst contact for mental health concerns. Practical advice, support and signposting for any issue impacting on a student’s

01695 650988

Students can self- refer to all of the above services and arrange appointments via the Catalyst Helpdesk.

Useful links and information

For more information about stress, follow the links below.


Young Minds


Support and self-help resources for students
Staff E-learning resources
Staff training at Edge Hill University
Back to the mental health toolkit homepage