Your mental wellbeing is one of your most important assets. It affects how you think, act and feel in all parts of your life.
As a student, your mental health is especially important because it can impact your studies. In fact, research has shown that high levels of mental wellness are linked to better learning outcomes, increased creativity and more positive social relationships.
But maintaining your mental health and wellbeing isn’t always easy. Maybe you’re struggling to keep up with your course work. Maybe you’ve been arguing a lot with your partner recently. Maybe there’s nothing technically ‘wrong’ but you still don’t feel like your usual self.
Sometimes you just need a little extra help to get through a challenging time. That’s why Australia offers plenty of mental health resources that are easily accessible to students – whether you’re studying in Australia or from another country.
Here are some of the most valuable online mental health support services and how to access them from wherever you are.
Signs to look out for
Often it’s hard to tell when someone’s mental health is getting worse. That’s why it’s important to stay alert for key warning signs of mental health concerns in yourself and others.
Some of these signs and symptoms to look out for include:
- Social withdrawal from family and/or friends
- Lack of interest in usual hobbies and/or activities
- Lack of physical hygiene and/or untidy appearance
- Constant feelings of sadness and/or anger
- Low self-esteem and self-worth
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Substance abuse
- Thoughts about self-harm and/or suicide.
For more information, take a look at a full list of signs and symptoms from Beyond Blue, a known and trusted Australian mental health organisation.
You can also check out the Australian Government’s healthdirect service, where you can check for symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Mental health support services
In some cultures, getting help for your mental health might be seen as strange. But in Australia, it is encouraged and very common, and there are many services available.
Your first contact should be with your Australian education provider. Many providers offer mental health services for students and can outline the range of support options available to you.
You can also check out all of the services made available by the Australian State or Territory where your education provider is located, by visiting this page.
There are also several online mental health support services that you can turn to in your time of need. Many of Australia’s major mental wellness organisations have their own online chat rooms where you can speak to trained professionals.
Some of these can be found at the links below.
If you’re not sure which services are best for you, you could try completing Beyond Blue’s anxiety and depression checklist. Once you complete the checklist, the system will give you a score. Your answers will show whether your risk of having a mental health concern is in the low, medium or high range. The site will then list some support contacts, many of which offer online help.
Another place to get help is by booking an appointment with a doctor/GP. They will be able to create a mental health plan with you that may or may not include medication.
Not ready to chat with someone?
If you’re not ready to discuss your mental wellbeing with someone else, that’s okay. There are other resources you can use on your own. For example, ReachOut has a list of tools and apps to help you regulate your thoughts and emotions.
If you’re struggling with thoughts of self-harm, consider Calm Harm. This app gives you ideas of tasks that help you resist the urge to hurt yourself. Free, private and password protected, it is available for use in several countries.
If you’re going through a difficult end to a relationship, you may want to check out Breakup Shakeup. This app gives you ideas of fun things to do to cope with your emotions, such as visiting a park or going camping. It is designed to help you find the value in social activities so you can heal faster.
There are also many online articles and resources available through the Australian Government’s Head to Health. You can consult these to find tips and strategies for managing your mental wellness.
How to access mental health support services from overseas
Are you studying online from overseas? You are still an important and valued member of Australia’s international student community and you can still take use any of the online mental health resources available in Australia.
You can start by contacting your education provider to ask what mental health support services are available to you from overseas, and try any of the suggested links above.
Remember that you’re not alone - there is always support available.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help with a mental health situation, call the emergency hotline in your country of residence.