Mental health and disability

About mental health and disability

Your HDR candidate may encounter mental health challenges throughout their candidature. There are many contributing factors to this, including isolation, stress, and concerns about money, deadlines and workloads. The counselling booklet developed by student services provides a guide to key indicators that you can look for. 

It is important that you regularly touch base with your candidate and encourage them to have a supportive network around them, and engage with the university services available to them. 

UQ offers a number of support programs to candidates. In the first instance, if you or your candidate have concerns about their mental health and wellbeing you should encourage them to meet with an advisor from Student Services (including one-on-one appointments, or crisis support). They may need help to develop a Student Access Plan (Disability), which identifies accommodations the University can make to support them. Student Services also offers counselling and referral services.

International candidates

If you are supervising an international HDR candidate there may be additional things to consider around culture and adjustment to living in Australia that need to be considered. In some cultures it is something that is simply not spoken about, and this can make it much more difficult to address. 

Student Services has a team specifically for international students, and they are experienced at negotiating the cultural differences that can exacerbate mental health concerns.  Referring your candidate to this team can also be used to help support general adjustment to life in Australia. 

Graduate School support

There are a number of ways we can support HDR candidates, and the best advice you can give them is to speak to Student Services and the Graduate School early.  Candidates are sometimes told, with the best intentions, to just focus on their health and take care of business later. However, this can have serious impacts on their scholarship, their candidature timeline, and even their visa status. 

It is important to keep us, at the Graduate School, informed of issues as early as possible so options such as interruption, extended paid sick leave, and even special extensions can be explored to help keep them on track. Unfortunately we cannot apply these avenues retrospectively, so it is imperative that we work together as soon as a concern is identified so we can achieve the best outcome for the candidate.