The University of Newcastle, Australia

Responding to student mental health and wellbeing

Thriving - no concern

  • Student will be delighted that you have noticed how well they are doing.
  • An encouraging comment from you will be much appreciated.
  • They can continue to develop their skills and strategies.

Examples

  • Balancing study-life-work interactions.
  • Achieving their goals.
  • Contributing to campus events.
  • Developing work-related skills through volunteering/employment.

Academic functioning

  • Good student.
  • Enjoying learning.
  • Actively participating in class discussion.
  • Assisting peers as PASS leader.

Social functioning

  • Socially active.
  • Strong network.

Personal functioning

  • Resilient.
  • May have some anxiety about assessment tasks or high achievement.

Coping behaviours

  • Proactive self-management and problem solving.
  • Seeks appropriate advice.

Your response

  • Support student’s self- development and acquisition of new skills.
  • Encourage mastery of new challenges.

Level 1 - unfolding concern

  • Let the student know that you have noticed their recent struggles and that help is available.
  • Explain that seeking help earlier may prevent a problem getting bigger.
  • Suggest they contact Student Support Services.

Examples

  • Teary and anxious in class.
  • Overwhelmed by end-of-semester workload and family responsibilities.

Academic functioning

  • Worried about assessments.
  • Stressed about giving presentations.

Social functioning

  • Minor relationship ups and downs.
  • May withdraw briefly.

Personal functioning

  • Short-term symptoms such as irritability, low mood, poor sleep.
  • Functions okay generally.

Coping behaviours

  • Stress reaction. Normal coping returns once situation resolves.

Your response

  • Support stress management, problem solving and peer support.
  • Encouraging counselling if issues persist.

Level 2 - concern but not an emergency

  • Tell the student that you are concerned about their current level of functioning.
  • Let them know what you have observed
  • Strongly encourage them to contact Student Support Services or Counselling.
  • Assure them that they can get back on track.

Examples

  • Observable changes in behaviour.
  • Having panic episodes in class.
  • Uncertain about continuing their studies.
  • At risk of failing a course.

Academic functioning

  • Less motivated.
  • Problems concentrating.
  • Doubting academic ability.
  • Fears failing courses.
  • Demanding or avoiding help.
  • Missing classes.
  • Seeking extensions.

Social functioning

  • Maintaining personal relationships.
  • May avoid some social activities.
  • Anxious about letting others down.
  • Participating less in class discussions.

Personal functioning

  • May appear stressed, irritable or moody.
  • Worried or self-critical.
  • Less organised.
  • Could lose normal routines: sleep, eating exercise.

Coping behaviours

  • May avoid tasks or over-work.
  • Use of less effective strategies such as binge eating/drinking or internet gaming.

Your response

  • Offer supportive consultation to encourage self-care and access to student supports.
  • Assist with problem solving strategies and short-term planning.
  • Refer to counselling for positive coping strategies to get back on track.

Level 3 - unfolding emergency

Examples

  • Expressing thoughts of suicide or self- harm but currently safe.
  • People are expressing their concerns.

Academic functioning

  • Not attending classes.
  • Failing courses.
  • Unable to function effectively in their student roles.

Social functioning

  • May be isolated and withdrawn.
  • Communications don’t make sense.
  • Irrational or hostile interactions which are out of character.

Personal functioning

  • May be experiencing mood swings.
  • Neglecting self-care.
  • Disorganised and having difficulty making decisions.
  • Thoughts of escaping via self-harm or suicide.
  • Could seem out of touch with reality.

Coping behaviours

  • Poor coping across several areas of life.
  • Impulsive.
  • Self-medicating.
  • Unable to make use of supports.

Your response

  • Encourage student to review academic expectations - options to reduce load, WWAP - and to enlist support of family and close friends.
  • Refer to student support, Counselling, GP. Consult with senior colleague, Campus Care, Counselling if student at risk of harm to self or others.

Level 4 - emergency

  • Ensure your own safety and the safety of others
  • Contact Security
    Callaghan Campus: (02) 4921 5888
    Newcastle City Campus: (02) 4921 7962
    Ourimbah Campus (Central Coast): (02) 4348 4222
    Port Macquarie Campus: 0412 595 054
    Sydney Campus: (02) 8262 6488
  • If there is no answer, contact 000 (triple zero) for emergency services.
  • Continue to monitor until help arrives.
  • Seek support for yourself

Examples

  • Danger of hurting self or others.
  • Aggressive or violent behaviour.
  • Highly agitated and may be hearing voices which are commanding action.

Academic functioning

  • Unable to function in student roles.

Social functioning

  • Unable to function as part of community.
  • Communications is obscure, irrational or illogical.
  • Frightening others.
  • Making threats.
  • Stalking.

Personal functioning

  • Chaotic.
  • Odd, bizarre behaviour.
  • May have made a suicide attempt.
  • Acting aggressively.

Coping behaviours

  • Neglecting basic self care.
  • No routine.
  • Could be homeless.
  • Struggling with addictions.

Your response

  • If threat is immediate, contact Security and activate Student Mental Health Emergency procedures.