Identification of Students at Risk

Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) encourage and promote early identification and support of students who may be experiencing issues of personal distress or mental ill health that are impacting their academic functioning or performance.

Mental health problems are common in university student populations as the typical age of onset for mental illness coincides with the age of many university students. The nature of the university experience can also be a potential factor in increasing students’ psychological distress. For instance, some students may experience high academic demands, financial difficulties, stress from transitioning between education levels or relocation for study, and changes in lifestyle (e.g., poor diet, lack of sleep, drug and alcohol use).

Stressful or distressing personal experiences also do not occur with consideration for the demands of academic life. In any given year, some individuals will be troubled by difficult life events such as sudden illness, hardship or trauma, or bereavement, which can impact someone’s mental health and/or ability to cope with study.

As a staff member, you may observe signs that indicate a student is experiencing distress, or at risk of deteriorating mental health, and be able to provide a timely response. Assisting students to access mental health support early can be critical in preventing problems from becoming more serious or prolonged, and potentially reduce adverse impacts of mental health issues on a person’s academic/work functioning, relationships, and quality of life. Early intervention is also associated with better recovery outcomes.

The following information is provided to assist staff working with students be familiar with common indicators of concern, and helpful ways to respond.

CAPS is available to consult with staff regarding student concerns. Secondary consultation is provided by Senior Counsellors and/or the Manager. To request a secondary consultation, call CAPS Reception during business hours on 03 8344 6927.