Guide to Best Practice in International Student Mental Health aims to bridge knowledge gaps and provide sector-specific guidelines for helping students with a mental health concern.
“I’ve seen many colleges struggle with managing student mental health issues”
“There aren’t a lot of resources that focus on the unique situation of international students,” said English Australia’s CEO Brett Blacker.
“We wanted to create something for colleges that helps them build a supportive environment for these students.”
Written by Jim Elliott, counselling psychologist and past president of the Australia and New Zealand Student Services Association, the guide tackles topics such as working with students under 18 years of age and understanding confidentiality.
“I’ve seen first-hand the impact mental illness presents in international students, and I’ve seen many colleges struggle with managing student mental health issues. I hope this Guide makes things a little bit easier for our higher education providers and their international students,” Elliott said.
According to English Australia spokesperson Simon Lockyer, industry understanding of international students’ unique mental health concerns, which are often amplified because of feelings of isolation and family pressures, had increased in recent years.
“A lot of international students might be fearful that ‘if I talk to someone about this, then authorities are going to know, is this going to affect whether or not I can stay in the country, is that going to impact on my visa?'” he told The PIE News.
Lockyer added the guide would help providers better identify difficulties early and, in the case of smaller institutions, provide guidance on when to seek external support and from where.
“They often don’t have the budget, don’t have the financial capacity to be able to put on someone like a full-time mental health worker, so there are often issues about roles.”
A June 2018 white paper by education agency WholeRen found mental health to be an increasing reason for Chinese students being dismissed from US institutions.