Keeping the door open: Exploring experiences of, and responses to, university students who disclose mental illness

Donna McAuliffe, Jennifer Helen Mary Boddy, Vanette McLennan, Victoria Stewart

Abstract


University educators increasingly manage situations where students disclose serious mental health issues. This is a significant issue, particularly for health and human service professions, as the importance of valuing the lived experience of mental illness lies alongside concerns for professional practice standards. Thus the responsibilities of students to disclose their mental health status and the responsibilities of Universities to provide appropriate support within established disability frameworks must be clear. However, students often do not know who they should disclose to, what will happen to disclosed information, and who has access to this information. Student's often fear embarrassment, stigma, and shame about disclosing mental illness, which is compounded by the diverse attitudes, experiences, and beliefs of educators. Consequently, this paper will review existing literature on university responses to, and students’ experiences of, mental illness in order to set a research agenda for this topic. The authors argue that such research must be undertaken urgently, in a context of inclusivity in higher education that gives voice to the experiences of students, their families and carers, university staff, and practitioners in the field.

Full Text:

PDF