Accessibility statement

Mental health and wellbeing

The Department of Biology is committed to providing a supportive environment that not only helps staff and students when they feel unwell, but also aims to help everyone to develop positive wellbeing and emotional health.

We have a dedicated team of Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA).  Mental Health First Aiders are available to provide a confidential local support network for those experiencing emotional or psychological distress.  The following link provides details of the staff that have been trained to provide support for anyone suffering from common mental health problems: MHFA team.  They can also guide affected individuals to the right support services.

There is MHFA information displayed throughout the department, and the MHFA team have an internal support network to ensure that they are able to access support if needed.  The Department has a dedicated quiet room, B/F004 - near Biology Stores on the F0 corridor, that can be used for private discussions and is suitable as a place for taking time out or talking to one of the MHFA team.


We encourage students to access support if they are experiencing mental health difficulties.  This could be speaking to your supervisor, or the Director for Students (Prof. Richard Waites) or the Assistant Chair of the Board of Studies (Dr Katie Smith).  Students can also speak to other trusted members of staff, or the Student Academic Services team in Biology.  A number of Biology staff have received mental health first aid training and can be of support.

The Biology Graduate Office has a monthly drop-in session from 2pm to 3pm on the first Wednesday of the month, specifically for Biology postgraduate students.

There is also support available in the wider University from college support teams, Nightline, the YUSU Advice and Support Centre and the Student Hub.  As well as their website, Nightline also has an online instant messaging service available to provide support.  All of these services can be accessed by undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Open Door Team

Open Door is a team of professionals providing support to registered students, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, who:

  • are experiencing psychological or mental health difficulties, or
  • have a disability and require specific support or would like some advice and guidance

More information on the types of support available can be found here.

Sources of information for students


Staff can speak to colleagues and the departmental MHFA team about their mental health.

The University offers a Mental Health First Contact Network for those who may wish to speak to a mental health first aider outside the Department.

Staff can also access counselling at any point via Confidential Care.  Counsellors are available to talk through any problem, no matter how big or small, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year:  Confidential Care information.

Training for Staff

The Department runs training for staff that includes the MHFA Lite training course (set up by MHFA England).  Staff also have access to the University's mental health training courses, ranging from short sessions on mental health awareness through to full, two day courses on which participants will gain a formal MHFA qualification.  These courses can be booked via the University's Learning Management System.

Speakers from the Open Door team have also been invited to run sessions on "Supporting Students in Distress", which were designed in conjunction with the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust.  The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust has a range of resources to help with mental health and wellbeing, as well as free online training that can assist staff who are in student-facing roles in recognising mental health challenges and signposting to helpful resources.

Sources of information for staff

General sources of information


Samaritans visit the campus weekly for drop in sessions, which anyone is welcome to attend.  They offer a safe place for you to talk, in your own way, about anything you may be experiencing.  Samaritans drop-ins on campus are from 6pm to 8pm every Monday in the University Library, Harry Fairhurst Building (in LFA/130) and Wednesday in Goodricke College, Heslington East campus (in GNU/001).

You can also phone the Samaritans anytime to discuss any concern, whether big or small, on +44 (0)1904 655 888 (local call charges apply) or on 116 123 (free to call).

Other sources