Careers teal


Cause for concern

Advice about how students, staff, parents, and supporters can raise a concern about a student   member of our university community

If you are, or become, concerned about a student we would strongly encourage you to share the concern so this can be followed up and the student offered appropriate support, guidance or advice. The university has a responsibility to our students and we always follow up on any concern expressed to us through our cause for concern process and encourage everyone to follow SMART Wellbeing: 

Signpost, Make Assessment, Refer TWellbeing.

We work with students to enable them to take control of their wellbeing or any difficulties which may arise during their time at university and we aim to support them successfully engage with their studies and non-academic life.  Third parties - including friends, family and supporters - are instrumental in informing students about the support we can provide and we are always happy to share details of the university's pastoral support services.  When you have a concern you could express this to the student and direct them to the Wellbeing Department for further support or contact us directly to raise this concern. You can email, access our daily drop-in sessions or call into one of our offices in Founder's East, 1st floor.

Emergency support 

If you believe there is an immediate risk to the student or others or an emergency cause for concern please alert campus security on 01784 443063 or seek specialised external support and then alert us. 

Advice and contact details for specialist and out of hours services are available on our emergency support pages. 

How to raise a wellbeing concern 

Are you concerned about a student at Royal Holloway?  

Other students and staff may the first person to notice if a student is struggling or vulnerable. Trust your instinct and don’t ignore your concerns - early support for students works well and can prevent a concern become overwhelming. 

If there is a general wellbeing concern please contact our Wellbeing Advisers at:

If there is a disability or medical concern please contact our Disability Advisers at: 

How to raise a safeguarding concern

All members of the Royal Holloway staff and student community have a responsibility to safeguard the health and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults (or adults at risk). Our Safeguarding Policy is available here and defines these as:

  • Child: A person who is under the age of 18 
  • Vulnerable Adult: A person aged 18 or over who by reason of mental or physical disability or illness may be unable to care for themselves or protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation. 

If a student or staff member identifies a safeguarding concern it should immediately be reported to the Designated Safeguarding Lead at

If you are unsure if your concern is a safeguarding matter please do speak to a member of staff, your Personal Tutor or Supervisor or the DSL as a priority.  It is important to act quickly in such cases so as to minimise risk of harm.

If there is an immediate risk identified the member of staff should call 999 and security. 

Safeguarding can also be used by staff to refer more broadly to concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of students, that are managed under our cause for concern processes within the Wellbeing Department.  


Looking after your own wellbeing

Friends can be a great support network for each other and we recognise the importance and value of peer support. However you should be careful not to take on more than you can comfortably cope with and not to support someone to the detriment of your own health, wellbeing and academic engagement.

Boundaries are incredibly important for both you and your friend. It is important to remember that you are not responsible for another person's difficulties and that you may need to encouage them to seek support through the university support services or our external support partners. 

Join one of our Look After Your Mate workshops to learn more.    

Helping a friend in crisis 

If you’ve got a friend who is in distress or in serious crisis - including talking of suicide – consider the acronym COPE: be Caring, Optimistic, Practical – and seek an Expert.

  • Be Caring

Never ignore or take a suggestion of self-harm lightly.  Research shows most people who attempt suicide normally tell someone else they’re thinking about it first.  Ask them, and don’t be afraid that talking about the threat will put ideas into the person’s mind.  It’s more likely they’ll appreciate being taken seriously.

  • Be Optimistic

Most human problems can be solved with time, care and expert help no matter how hopeless they might seem.  Don’t give up hope just because your friend has temporarily lost theirs – their problem can be overcome.  At the same time, however, don’t let your optimism lead you to dismiss or make light of the person’s concerns.

  • Be Practical

If a friend says they’re thinking about suicide do not ignore this.  Involve other people, including the emergency services if you need to.  Be especially vigilant if someone is intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, if they have made a suicide attempt in the past, or if they have a clearly formulated plan.  Don’t however, get drawn into making unrealistic promises of long-term support that you’re unlikely to be able to keep.

  • Seek an Expert

If the person in distress refuses to get help once the immediate crisis is over, consider contacting someone yourself in order to plan what steps can be taken to get support for yourself and your friend. Try to understand protective factors for your friend.

The local Crisis Mental Health hotline is available 24/7 on 0800 915 4644 and the Woking Safe Haven is  open each evening from 6pm - 11pm 

For further advice and guidance please contact the Wellbeing department or look at our emergency support information for urgent care.

Confidentiality & data protection 

Please be aware that in line with the data protection laws, we can only discuss a student's circumstances with a third party with the students explicit consent. 

We can reassure you that every concern is triaged and followed up in the most appropriate way by a member of our department.

When you contact our department we will be pleased to listen to you, advise you on how you can signpost to or support someone in accessing support but we will not be able to disucss the specific circumstances of the student's situation with you.  We hope that any information provided to a third party will allow and enable the student to make an informed and constructive choice about accessing support services.  Students are able to share their consent for us to share information with other support agencies, family or supporters. 

If you would like to discuss this further please contact us and ask to complete a student consent form.