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It’s OK to not be OK.

Sonder Safe   |   Feb 7, 2020 4:22:30 PM
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Studying overseas is a big investment in your future.  You are developing your skills and value as a global citizen, and it's also a lot of fun! 

Being an international student is a wonderful experience but we know it can also be challenging.  We understand how important it is to you and your family that you succeed in your studies and that expectation can bring a lot of pressure and stress.  Many of us feel that way at different times. It’s far more common than many people realise, but we also know that for you, as an international student, there are lots of other things that might affect your emotional wellbeing whilst you are away from home.  

Whether you are currently in Australia, NZ, China, or elsehwehere, coronavirus may be impacting many of you - in ways you might not even realise: 

  • You may know something is happening, but aren’t sure of the details
  • You may be generally worried or fearful about the development of coronavirus and potentially becoming infected
  • You may be worried about family or friends who have been affected by coronavirus
  • You may be experiencing symptoms like a runny nose or cough, and don’t know how or when to get them checked
  • You may be currently ill and feel vulnerable to infection but don’t know how to prevent it
  • You may have been quarantined, or are in self-quarantine, and feel isolated
  • You may feel that you are developing anxiety or depression 
  • You may be struggling with prolonged separation from family
  • You may be experiencing discrimination because of your nationality or race

But aside from the impact of coronavirus, we recognise that there are other times when we need somebody to turn to:

  • When you are overwhelmed, trying to balance work and study
  • In times when you struggle with language difficulties, as well as social and cultural barriers
  • When you have financial worries
  • When you have been in the past, or are currently being bullied or harassed
  • When you are struggling with the pressure to succeed academically
  • In times when you think you might have a mental health condition and need more information
  • You might have a pre-existing disability or mental health condition and struggle to manage it day to day
  • If you have suicidal thoughts or have considered self-harming 

It’s OK to not be OK 

Depending on your cultural background, these might be things that are rarely talked about, even among friends and family. You might have negative thoughts that might be considered “taboo” or shameful. We want all of the international students choosing to study and spend time in Australia and New Zealand to know that this isn’t the case here. There are lots of resources available that provide help and support, all of which provide clear information that can keep us on the right track. 

We’ve outlined a few of them below, to make sure you know there are plenty of options available to support you - whatever you’re going through:

Student counselling provided by your university or college 

Most institutions offer free student counselling services. If you’ve never talked to a stranger about your mental health concerns before, student counselling is a great place to start. A counsellor's job is to listen without judgement. They may offer suggestions to help you manage common student issues like social problems, challenging classes and exam-related stress. If you, or your counsellor think you might be dealing with a more serious mental health concern, they can help you seek help from a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.

GPs, psychologists and psychiatrists 

It's important that you visit your GP (general practitioner) to obtain a referral letter in order to see a medically accredited mental health professional. Your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) should cover the cost of the GP appointment. If you’re worried about a language barrier, do some research online or ask your student counsellor or GP about specialists who speak your language. 

International Student specific advice from the Australian government

National helplines you can call anytime - day or night

  • Health Direct - 1800 022 222 - use this service to speak to a registered nurse about any health concerns
  • Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467 - a nationwide service that provides professional 24/7 telephone and online counselling to people who are affected by suicide.
  • Lifeline - 13 11 14 - provide suicide prevention services, mental health support and emotional assistance, not only via telephone but also face-to-face and online
  • Kids helpline - 1800 55 1800 - Australia’s only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.

For other concerns related specifically to Coronavirus