A student guide to Bristol’s best mental health services outside of the university

It’s important to remember that you are not alone, and there is help available

A 2022 survey by mental health charity Student Minds revealed that 57 per cent of respondents reported a mental health issue, whilst 27 per cent disclosed a diagnosed mental health condition. The pressures of student life, both academic and financial, alongside the diminished presence of familiar support networks, contribute strongly to the poor mental health many students experience.

Asking for help can be difficult, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to look. Below is a guide to Bristol-based organisations and national charities supporting those who suffer with their mental health. All services listed are confidential and do not require financial contribution unless specified otherwise.

Crisis helplines

  • Bristol Mental Health Crisis Line (24h, every day) 0300 555 0334
  • Bristol MindLine (Wed-Sun, 8pm-midnight) 0808 808 0330
  • Bristol MindLine (all other times) 0300 123 3393
  • Samaritans (24h, every day) 0117 983 1000

 1. Drug misuse

Bristol Drugs Project is an organisation offering support for those seeking help with drug and alcohol use. Services include support groups, drop-ins and harm reduction advice, with specific support for students and the LGBTQ+ community in the city centre. It also offers free drug testing kits.

Website: bdp.org.uk

Phone: 0117 987 6000

Email: [email protected]

Narcotics Anonymous provides a space for those wishing to discuss their experience with narcotics, with the aim of overcoming addiction. In-person meetings are held in the city centre and Lawrence Hill – remote meetings are available too and there is no need to book a meeting in advance.

Website: https://ukna.org

Phone: 0300 999 1212

Email: [email protected]

2. Alcohol misuse

Bristol ROADS (Recovery Orientated Alcohol & Drugs Service) operates in north, central and south Bristol and offers support to those preparing to make changes, attempting recovery and wanting to prevent alcohol and drug-related relapses. It offers an initial assessment followed by a welcome and action planning session to set a treatment goal, which can include the allocation of a recovery worker and a structured group programme.

Website: https://www.dhi-online.org.uk/get-help/adult-drug-alcohol-treatment/bristol-roads

Phone: 0117 440 0540

Email: [email protected]

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) offers group meetings for those wishing to discuss their experience with alcohol and work towards overcoming addiction. In-person and remote meetings cater to members in any stage of recovery and their loved ones. In-person meetings can be found in Clifton, Redland, Hotwells, Easton, Horfield and Brislington.

Website: https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

Phone: 01904 644 026

Email: [email protected]

3. Eating disorders

Bristol Eating Disorder Support Groups holds bimonthly meetings on Whiteladies Road, one session a month is held for sufferers only, with another session a month open to sufferers and their accompanied or unaccompanied loved ones, providing a space for those affected to receive emotional support and share experiences. The organisation is able to direct those affected towards treatment, counselling and therapy, however, it’s a support group only.

Website: bristoleatingdisordersupportgroup.weebly.com

Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Associations offers counselling following an assessment costing £25 with a pro-recovery aim. SWEDA provides emotional support group meetings via Zoom and support calls over six sessions where you can discuss recovery, whether you are ready to recover, and learn more about how your eating disorder is affecting you.

Website: swedauk.org

General phone: 01749 34 33 44

4. Anxiety

VitaMinds Works in partnership with the NHS to offer short-term therapy for those suffering from anxiety, excessive worry, overthinking and panic attacks following a telephone assessment. Workshops and groups are available in person and online, and don’t have to be accessed via your GP.

Website: https://www.vitahealthgroup.co.uk/nhs-services/nhs-mental-health/bristol-north-somerset-and-south-gloucestershire-mental-health-services/#our-services

Phone: 0333 200 1893

Email: [email protected]

Social Anxiety Bristol. A self-help group welcoming anyone who experiences social anxiety to talk about it in a safe space and receive support and advice from those who are like-minded. Meetings held in Totterdown.

Website: socialanxietybristol.org.uk

Email: [email protected]

5. Rape and sexual assault

Safelink has independent sexual violence advisors who offer advice and practical emotional support, access to counselling, support attending sexual health services and assistance with medical attention. Can also provide assistance with housing, benefits and employers. Support can be offered with regards to making a statement to the police, compensation claims and support before, during and after the court process, although you do not have to report to the police to access services.

Website: https://safelinksupport.co.uk

Phone: 0333 323 1543

Email: [email protected]

Survivors UK is a national online helpline for men, boys and non-binary people who have experienced sexual violence via SMS and webchat, available seven days a week 12pm-8pm. Offers independent sexual violence advisors trained to support survivors of sexual violence who have reported or are considering reporting to the police emotionally and practically.

Their Clinic26 is where those who have survived sexual violence can access sexual health services in a supportive environment and is available via Zoom, as is their Civil Law Clinic, where you can arrange free legal advice.

Website: https://www.survivorsuk.org

SMS helpline number: 020 3322 1860

Email: [email protected]

Clinic26/Civil Law clinic email: [email protected]

 6. Domestic abuse

Victim Support is a helpline providing 24/7 emotional support alongside practical advice in relation to reporting a crime. Support is offered regardless of whether the police have been contacted and how long ago the crime took place.

Website: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk

Phone: 0300 303 1972

Women’s Aid is a live chat service with trained female support workers providing space for you to explore your choices. A live chat function is also available for those questioning whether they may be in an abusive or controlling relationship. Advice as to safety plans for staying in or leaving an abusive relationship, looking for safe accommodation, what to expect when services get involved, looking for emotional support and worries about a friend or family member can be explored via email.

Website: https://www.womensaid.org.uk

Email: [email protected]

7. Grief and bereavement

 The Harbour is a charity based in the city centre offering therapy for those who have suffered a loss, are facing life-threatening illness, or are impacted by a loved one facing life-threatening illness and discusses death, dying and bereavement.

Website: https://the-harbour.org.uk

Phone: 0117 925 9348

Email: [email protected]

Grief Encounter offers a helpline and web chat service where you can seek emotional guidance related to grief, or if you would like to know how to support a person close to you. Their website also features guides to assist in navigating different situations relating to bereavement. In-person counselling is available in Totterdown.

Website: https://www.griefencounter.org.uk/south-west/

Helpline: 0808 802 0111

Email: [email protected]

 8. LGBTQ+ networks

Intercom Trust offers a listening support helpline which also signposts LGBT+ social groups across the South West, helps you navigate support in your area and can provide information surrounding LGBT+ rights.

Website: https://www.intercomtrust.org.uk

Helpline: 0900 612 3010

Helpline email: [email protected]

 Safe Space Support Groups offer closed support meetings on Zoom for members of the LGBTQIA+ community (including those questioning their identity) run by Changes Bristol. Open to those at any stage of their coming out journey. Discussion is not limited to LGBTQIA+ topics alone and experiences of trauma, discrimination and prejudice can be shared.

Website: https://changesbristol.org.uk/support/lgbtqia-group/

Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

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