Image source: ensa Mental Health First Aid manual ( Copyright of ensa and the Swiss Foundation Pro Mente Sana, Zurich.

Mental health is a continuum with many stages from being well to being unwell. The information on this page gives ideas what to do prevent becoming unwell, what to do if becoming unwell and where the seek professional treatment when being unwell.

How to stay mentally healthy?

Towards better mental health

Image source:

The state of mental health can change over time going from worse to better and vice versa. Several biological, psychological and social factors/resources/stressors can influence whether one is rather healthy or rather ill. Some of these factors/resources/stressors can be changed, others not. Not for everything that is good for your mental health a (professional) service is necessary. Below are several self-care ideas. In case of worsening mental health an early intervention and early advice on professional treatment is recommended.

Know which resources and factors strenghten your mental health

Know which strains and stressors weaken your mental health

  • Relieve stress

  • Lower anxiety levels

  • Decrease depression

  • Offered by ASVZ

Mindfulness (meditation)
  • “paying attention, on purpose, moment by moment and without judgement”

  • Better coping with stress, reduces anxiety

  • Prevent relapse of depression (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy)

  • Easy to carry out; commercial offers for mindfulness training, e.g.:

Health Lunchtime Event (ETH)
  • Once per semester

  • Organised by human resources at ETH

  • Talks with different topics regarding mental and physical health, personal and professional development

  • Material/videos available on their website

MeWell events
  • Peer support for people in academia in Zurich

    • E.g. monthly de-stress tea events

    • Friends events (hiking, museum, etc.

  • Mental health awareness events

Treffpunkt Nordliecht (
  • Protected space were people with mental health problems are welcome to talk with each other, eat together, read, play or just be in the presence of others

  • Low-threshold, only first names used, people with addiction problems are referred to other institutions


Student advisory service/Coaching (ETH)
  • One-on-one coaching

  • Five coaches for ETH

  • For students

Health promotion courses (ETH)
  • For employees

What to do when becoming unwell

  • Telephone support (+online chat) for people in academia in Zurich

  • Run by students (VSETH/VSUZH/ALIAS)

  • Anonymous and confidential

  • 044 633 77 77

Dargebotene Hand
  • Telephone support (+online chat) for people in Switzerland

  • Run by volunteers in accordance with the principles of the International Federation Of Telephone Emergency Services

  • Anonymous and confidential

  • Dargebotene Hand: 143

AVETH counseling/Helpdesks (ETH)
  • Support for scientific staff at ETH

  • Run by PhD students and postdocs

  • Confidential

  • For academic, administrative, personal issues

  • Helpdesks: counseling at department level; exists at CHAB, ERDW, HEST, PHYS, BSSE, MAVT, ITET (as of September 2020)

Contact and advice services (ETH)
  • Ombudspersons, trusted intermediaries

  • Respect campaign

    • Advice and consilliation service

    • Bullying, harassment, discrimination

  • Equal! Office

    • More than gender diversity

    • E.g. physical and cognitive impairments

Counseling and information - Pro Mente Sana
  • Nonprofit foundation

  • For everyone in CH

  • Psychosocial & legal phone and electronic counseling (free)

  • Project: Ensa – Mental Health First Aid

  • Further information about mental health

Seeking treatment to recover

  • It’s totally ok to have problems and to get help to solve them

  • Seeking help is a sign of strength and not a “weakness”

  • Counseling, psychotherapy, and(or) prescribed medication are effective means of treating mental disorders

  • "Don't think of seeing a mental health professional as something stigmatizing that you only do in a moment of acute crisis. Think of it as a general wellness thing, like going for an annual checkup. Talk about problems early instead of letting things build up." (1)

Psychologische Beratungsstelle Zürich (ETH/UZH)
  • For students of ETH and UZH

  • Free and confidential

  • German, English, French, Dutch, Polish

  • Currently counseling also per phone or video

  • Six full-time positions for psychologists with psychotherapy training (increased in 2019 by 1.4 to 6 to reduce multi-week long waiting times)

  • Limited resources: 3812 consultations for 1920 clients in 2019 (1.9 consultations per client)

  • 39% of clients (year 2019) needed psychotherapy or psychiatric treatment (mostly external)


Psychological Advice Centre (IAP)

WALK-IN  counseling-service Zurich

  • e.g. to find a medically licensed psychotherapist

  • Larger psychiatric clinics in every canton house crisis intervention centers (KIZ). Talk therapy and psychiatric treatment is available immediately for anyone experiencing a crisis or extraordinary circumstances



  • For everyone

  • Often covered by basic insurance (diagnosed disorder; psychiatrist or delegated psychotherapy)

  • Confidential

  • Choose a therapist who is in a „anerkannter Berufsverband“

  • Have a first meeting with several therapists and choose one were you feel comfortable and who has experience with your problem

  • Average waiting time of new patients for a psychotherapy in Switzerland is 2 to 4 weeks (2)

Emergency or acute crisis

Services outside of Zurich

In case of an emergency or an acute crisis contact: