This guide is to inform students of services outside of University that they can access. Some are UK-wide and some are specific to London.
UAL runs mental health and counselling services and has a team of disability advisors as well as the Student Unions’ advice service. Information on health advice at UAL can be accessed by clicking the link here.
Information on advice services run by the Students' Union, usually housing, financial or academic issues, this can be found by clicking the link here.
This guide is to inform students of services outside of University that they can access. Some are UK-wide and some are specific to London. UAL has a list of out-of-hours support (outside of the usual staff working hours of around 9-5 Monday-Friday)which you can find out more about by clicking this link here.
A vast amount of healthcare in the UK is free, from A&E services to contraception, through to our National Health Service. This means purchasing health insurance is a personal choice, not an expectation. Private healthcare can be accessed through companies such as Bupa. But through the NHS, you will not be charged, for example, for going to the doctors or having an ambulance take you to hospital. The healthcare that tends not to be free includes: opticians and dentistry, as you would usually access these services through companies not the NHS. For example, popular choices for opticians are Specsavers and Boots, which have many stores around London and dentistry is usually access through private businesses or chains. Sometimes these services are free but you have to meet certain criteria.
The easiest way to access healthcare, physical and/or mental, is to be registered at a GP centre. It’s very important students do this when they are living in the UK. GP means ‘general practice’ or ‘practitioner’ but it means doctors. If you need to see a doctor, you must have already registered with a GP, ideally in London where you live (if you have moved from somewhere in England to London but are registered with a GP back home, it may be worth considering registering with a new GP in London, depending on how easy it is for you to get home). It is easy and free to sign up, you can do this by clicking this link here.
International students can sign up with a GP. You can only sign up with one GP practice, so you cannot be signed up to one at home and one in London. Bare this is mind, especially if you’re a home student and you have repeat prescriptions from your home doctor, as they will need to transfer your prescription to your London GP, if you decide to sign up with a new one. Be careful as this can take time! Ideally, do this as soon as you arrive in London so you don’t run out of medication during the transition.
Contraception is free at clinics, although certain types can also be bought from drugstores and supermarkets such as condoms and the ‘morning after’ pill.
Find your nearest sexual health clinic click this link here.
Sexually-transmitted infections can also be tested for free at these clinics, or for discretion, you can test yourself at home, for free by following this link here. You can order a test kit to arrive via post, which you then send off via free postage and your results will be texted to you. You can only use this Sexual Health London service if you live in London, in most boroughs apart from Hillingdon, Croydon and Greenwich.
Mental health services that range from dealing with depression to trauma to gender dysphoria are available both on the NHS for free, and also privately, where you have to pay. For NHS services, you usually go via your GP first, then may be referred to support groups, therapy and/ or prescribed medication, among many other routes. Younger students who wish to access NHS mental health support may receive services from CAMHS (children and adolescent mental health services), while mature students would go down a different route. For many years, the UK has had an issue with mental health services being overwhelmed by far more people requiring services who are unable to access them for many months as there is a staff shortage and long waitlists as well as government spending cuts. How quickly you will be referred for mental health services through the NHS will depend on your situation, living and financial situation, the area you live in and age. You may be able to access NHS services in a few weeks or it could take many months. Some people choose to pay for services if they cannot wait. Your GP will outline your options.
There are many mental health charities across the UK, some with 24 hour phone lines, some are specific to helping students. Here are some options:
Samaritans: www.samaritans.org/ they have a 24/7 free phoneline
Students Against Depression: www.studentsagainstdepression.org/
Nightline: nightline.ac.uk a London-based support service
All of these services are free and confidential.
Check out Mental Health Café in London which has a programme of events focusing on mental health, wellbeing and mindfulness.