Support and wellbeing
While it is hoped that your time at Sheffield will be an untroubled one, there may be occasions when you need additional help and support.
The University has a comprehensive support structure available to help with all kinds of different problems. By engaging with the support services below we hope you will be able to work through any difficulties and achieve your potential.
At the University of Sheffield, we are committed to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our student communities and to providing meaningful activities to support you to manage your own wellbeing. We offer a range of practical and emotional support, which is available to you at any stage of your university journey, if you need it.
As well as talking to your supervisory team, e.g. supervisor or personal tutor, you can access health and wellbeing support, including exploring your own wellbeing, with your faculty-based Wellbeing Advisors.
Some doctoral researchers are unsure whether or not it is appropriate for them to access the services managed by Student Support Services; please be assured that all support is intended for PGR students, as well as those undertaking undergraduate or Masters degree programmes.
If you don’t need to make use of our dedicated support services right now, the University provides other services and resources to help you stay well and in control of your degree.
We have a specific Researcher Wellbeing programme (staff or PGR login required), which offers wellbeing sessions, online resources and social activities throughout the year, as well as the annual Researcher Wellbeing Week, in June. You can keep up with researcher wellbeing activities via faculty researcher development newsletters, and by following us on Twitter: @reswellsheff.
We also have a number of peer-support networks, including for disabled and ill researchers, PGR parents and researchers engaged in emotionally demanding research. If you think one or more of these might be helpful to you, please take a look at the networks page.
In addition to the wide range of support available to you through the University, there are things you can do yourself to support your own wellbeing.
Transitioning from a taught academic course or other employment to independent, self-directed research can be challenging; you might find it difficult to manage your time or to know what an appropriate 'pace' is. Your supervisory team will be able to help you get to grips with managing your degree, so please do discuss it with them.
It is likely that your research degree will enable you to work more flexibly than your previous job or studies. This means that you might not always work 'typical' office hours, depending on what best suits you and the requirements of your research.
No matter how you choose to organise your work, finding and maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial. It can be easy to fall into an unhealthy pattern of overlong days, so keep an eye on the hours that you are working. Remember, too, that you are entitled to take annual leave, so please do so! Taking proper breaks not only helps you to manage your wellbeing, but can also have a positive impact on your work.
You might have moved cities or countries to undertake your degree. This, combined with the sometimes solitary nature of postgraduate research, can lead to you feeling lonely or isolated. Please remember that you’re not alone! Some of your fellow researchers may be feeling the same way as you.
It is likely that you’ll have the opportunity to participate in departmental seminar series and other regular events such as PGR journal clubs - getting involved in these can help you to get to know people outside of your immediate research project and to feel more connected to your academic community.
The Wellbeing Service Blog is a great way to stay informed, feel connected and be inspired about the benefits of positive wellbeing. Choose from articles, useful resources, good reads and apps to help you to stay well and supported throughout your University experience.
There are lots of ways that the university can help you and that you can help yourself, but there are also some excellent external sources of support that might be of use to you during your degree. These include:
- The Wellbeing Thesis website, funded by the Office for Students and Research England, which provides an excellent range of resources to support you as you begin and progress through your postgraduate research
- Student Minds, a national charity supporting the mental health of students. This website has lots of useful information and resources to help you manage your mental wellbeing, and advice about supporting friends and loved ones.
- NHS Live Well, for general tips, advice and resources to help you to look after your physical and mental health.
- Samaritans offer a listening service over phone or email to talk to someone in confidence.
If you feel that you are in need of more urgent support the Sheffield Mental Health Guide can point you in the right direction.
We know that Doctoral research can be fascinating, rewarding, exhilarating, exhausting and stressful - sometimes all at the same time. We want to support you throughout the whole of your degree, and are committed to providing the services and resources to do just that. If you need help, please do reach out, if you possibly can.