Student Counselling Service

Supporting students to thrive at Notre Dame

We provide students with free, confidential counselling and psychological support. Counsellors and psychologists can help you with a range of issues, including anxiety, stress, depression, loss and grief, relationship difficulties, gender and sexuality concerns, financial difficulties and addiction and substance abuse. Counselling can help you develop strategies to address your concerns, improve mental health and wellbeing and achieve your academic goals.

  • The Fremantle Counselling Service is now conducting in-person appointments in their ND5 office with social distancing measures in place. Fremantle and Broome students can contact (08) 9433 0580 or fremantle.counselling@nd.edu.au
  • The Sydney Counselling Service continues to offer tele-counselling appointments until they return to campus. Sydney students can contact (02) 8204 4220 or sydney.counselling@nd.edu.au

For more information, visit nd.edu.au/studentcounselling

  • What can I talk to a counsellor about?

    Students attend counselling for many different reasons. You are free to talk with your counsellor about any issue affecting your academic or personal life. Common issues discussed with counsellors include:

    • Experiences of stress, anxiety and depression;
    • Difficulty keeping up with study;
    • Time management and motivation issues;
    • Concentration and procrastination issues,
    • Problems making friends or participating in tutorials or group work,
    • Worry about placements and practicums;
    • Managing study-work balance;
    • Eating or body image issues;
    • Financial difficulties;
    • Relationship and family issues;
    • Being away from home and family;
    • Addiction and substance abuse;
    • Traumatic events, abuse, loss and grief;
    • Impact of chronic or sudden illness;
    • Unexpected lifestyle circumstances;
    • Difficulty fulfilling personal or professional goals;
    • Loss of hope;
    • Self-harming behaviours;
    • Thoughts about wanting to die or suicide;
    • Unplanned or unexpected pregnancy;
    • Gender and sexuality issues;
    • Crisis or concerns about faith and spirituality;
    • Desire for change or growth.
  • When is the most helpful time to talk with a counsellor?

    You can attend counselling at any time during the year. If you have been experiencing any of the following situations or symptoms for a period of more than two weeks we encourage you to talk with a Student Counsellor or your GP / Medical Doctor.

    • Struggling to keep up with your work or have failed a paper, exam or unit;
    • Experiencing low mood, depressive thoughts and a sense of not being able to shake off the blues;
    • Experiencing feelings of anxiety and worry that impact negatively on your day to day life;
    • Experiencing personal difficulties in your life and finding it difficult to cope;
    • Noticing behaviour changes that are causing you or others concern;
    • Experiencing uncomfortable and unwanted thoughts or emotions which are affecting your day to day life;
    • Experiencing stress or discomfort;
    • Finding relationships difficult or unsatisfying;
    • Not coping well in class, workplace learning, clinical placement, at home or at work;
    • Having a conflict of faith or values that is worrying you;
    • Wanting to make personal or professional changes to help achieve your goals;
    • Experiencing any thoughts of self-harm, wanting to die or suicide.
  • Common Questions

    I need support for Special Consideration, Deferred or Irregularly Scheduled Exams & Retroactive Withdrawal

    There are many reasons that students might require special assistance during the course of their degree. Any special assistance is guided by the university's policy on Special Consideration, Deferred or Irregularly Scheduled Exams or Retroactive Withdrawal. It is important that you read these policies and regulations before submitting an application for assistance.

    It is usually useful to discuss your application with your faculty before submitting your application as they will be able to guide you to the correct information and advise you as to whether your situation meets the criteria set out in the regulations.

    Our counsellors provide a number of services to help you submit your application for assistance:

    • Help in understanding the regulations,
    • Help in deciding what the best option may be for you
    • Help completing the necessary forms

    It is your responsibility to provide documentation to support your applications for Special Consideration, Deferred or Irregularly Scheduled Exams or Retroactive Withdrawal. If you can bring this documentation to your first appointment it may be possible to complete your form and return it to your faculty immediately. In some cases counsellor may be able to sign Special Consideration, Deferred or Irregularly Scheduled Exams and Retroactive Withdrawal forms without further supporting documentation. For example if you have seen a counsellor a number of times before applying or if you are able to clearly demonstrate a pre-existing mental health diagnosis. In most cases you will be required to provide further documentation before a counsellor will sign your forms.

    Please note that when a Student Counsellor supports your application for Special Consideration, Deferred or Irregularly Scheduled Exams or Retroactive Withdrawal it does not necessarily mean that these requests will be granted. These decisions are made by the Administrative and Academic Staff of the University.

    I would like a counsellor to advocate on my behalf regarding special circumstances or difficulties

    If you are experiencing difficulties with your studies, it is always important to speak with your lecturer, tutor or course coordinator. Your issues or concerns can often be dealt with immediately by academic staff.

    If you are unable to resolve your concerns or have difficulty contacting academic staff directly, the student counsellors may be able to advocate on your behalf.

    Please note that when a student counsellor advocates on your behalf it does not necessarily mean that they will achieve your desired outcome. Academic staff will make decisions based on all the evidence provided including that from the Student Counsellor and within the University regulations.

    I would like Assistance with appealing an academic or administrative decision affecting me

    Students have a right to appeal against academic or administrative decisions affecting them. Please read the Student Appeals Policy to help you determine whether you can appeal a decision and how to lodge an appeal. Student Counsellors are available to support you during your appeal process should you decide to proceed.

    Assistance with Grievances

    The University recognises that students may wish to raise a complaint, problem, issue or concern (Grievance) relating to their current or past involvement with the University. Please read the Grievance Procedure and talk with a Grievance Officer for further information. Student counsellors can help you decide whether to lodge a grievance and provide support while your grievance is being heard.

    I would like advice and support about my disciplinary committee hearing

    If you are required to attend a Disciplinary Committee hearing our counsellors are able to offer you advice and support. They can help you prepare for the hearing and manage any anxiety so that you are able to state your case with confidence. Counsellors are also able to provide a debrief appointment after a hearing if you are feeling concerned or upset.

    I am an Indigenous Student

    We invite all indigenous students to come and meet with a student counsellor to discuss how we might support you in your academic and personal goals. You don't have to have a problem or be struggling to meet with us. We provide coaching and mentoring support that is specifically designed to be relaxed, conversational and supportive. The Student Counselling Service is committed to working sensitively and culturally with indigenous students. With a large indigenous staff group and the campuses presence for over 20 years in the Kimberley region, as an indigenous student you are part of an education environment that is here for you.

    I am a mature age student

    We understand that being mature age student takes a lot of skill and determination. Mature age students often have to re-train themselves into study habits whilst balancing multiple responsibilities at home or work. Sometimes balancing life's demands and academic expectations can feel overwhelming. We invite you to make an appointment with your counsellors to discuss developing good study habits as well as addressing any difficulties that you encounter along the way.

    I have a disability

    If you have a disability that affects your study in any way we encourage you to contact the University's Access & Inclusion Advisor. You are also welcome to make an appointment with a counsellor if your disability is affecting your studies or personal development.

    May I bring my child to my counselling appointment?

    Unfortunately clients are not able to bring their children into counselling appointments. We recommend that you arrange for children to be cared for so that you can focus your full attention on your counselling appointment.

    In some circumstances clients may be able to bring children under 1 year old into a counselling appointment. Please discuss with reception your desire to bring your under 1 year old to an appointment.

    Unfortunately due to legal and safety reasons children under 16 are not permitted to wait in the waiting areas unaccompanied.

  • Crisis Information

    I am in crisis or worried about someone else.

    If you or someone else requires emergency / crisis support use the emergency numbers below. The Student Counselling Service is not a 24 hour service and does not offer drop in emergency or crisis support. We cannot guarantee we will be able to respond to crisis situations.

    24 hour Crisis Support Services

    Lifeline 13 11 14
    Mental Health Emergency Response Line 1300 555 788
    Police, Ambulance & Fire (for life threatening emergencies) 000 
    Other counselling services that may be able to provide appointments in a crisis situation

    • Centrecare + 61 8 9325 6644
    • Relationships Australia +61 8 9336 2114
    • Men's Line + 61 8 9340 1820
    • SARC (Sexual Assault Resource Centre) 1800 199 888
    • Alcohol and Drug Information Service + 61 9442 5000

    How to talk to someone who is distressed

    There is no correct procedure for helping someone who is distressed. Each of us will have our own style of approaching and responding to others who are distressed. Some of us might have more experience with people who are upset or become emotional, others may have little experience and therefore feel less sure of how to best help. It is important to know your personal limits as a friend or helper and be willing to ask for help yourself when you need it.

    If you are in a situation where you need to help someone who is distressed, or if someone who appears to be distressed or unhappy approaches you to talk about personal problems we suggest the following approaches:

    • If you can, request to talk to the person in private. If you are in a public space look for a more private place to talk, or ask someone if there is a quiet, safe place to talk. Don't choose an isolated place, keep others in view in case you need help.
    • Speak directly, honestly and warmly.
    • Ask the person if they have talked to anyone else about their distress, such as family or friends. If they have not, ask them if they have someone in mind they could talk to.
    • If you have initiated the contact after being concerned for a person, express your concern in behavioural, nonjudgmental terms. For example, "I've noticed you've been absent from class lately and I'm concerned," rather than "Where have you been lately? You should be more concerned about your grades." or "I notice you were tearful after class earlier is there anything I can do to help?"
    • If the person is willing to talk with you, listen to their thoughts and feelings in a sensitive, non-threatening way. Communicate you are listening and understand by repeating back a summary of what the person is concerned about and clarify that you have got it right. Try to include both the details of their concern and how they are feeling or coping. For example, "It sounds like you're not accustomed to this much work in so short a period of time and you're worried about failing" Or "So you received your results yesterday and are upset with the outcome and are not sure what to do next."
    • It is important to respect the persons experience even if you think they are overreacting or behaving inappropriately. Avoid judging statements or challenging what they are saying.
    • If you notice a person behaving inappropriately or in a strange manner don't avoid addressing this. Talk directly to them about your observations.
    • Do not discuss your concerns with other people. If you feel you need to consult with someone else tell the person you need to get help and will do so in a private and confidential manner. Ask the student to wait and provide them somewhere comfortable to do so.
    • If the person appears to not be able to manage on their own, do not leave them alone. Ask someone else to get help.

    How to talk with someone who indicates they are thinking of suicide

    If you become concerned that a person is suicidal, ask to speak with them confidentially and ask the following questions that a health professional would also use to assess risk:

    • Do you have a plan for exactly how you would act on these thoughts?
    • When and where do you intend to carry out the plan?
    • Have you ever attempted suicide before?

    The more specific and fatal the persons plan, and if they have previously attempted suicide before indicates a higher the risk that they may act on their plan. Don't be afraid to ask these questions they will not 'plant' ideas in the persons head about suicide. If they are already thinking about suicide talking directly about their intentions in a matter of fact way is important. Remember that many people consider suicide from time to time. Thinking about death as a way of coping with pain and stress is common. Less specific and fatal plans probably indicate that a suicide attempt is less likely. If a person does indicate they are thinking about suicide always refer them to professional help. On Fremantle Campus you can take them to the Student Counselling Service, ND5/100, P&0 Hotel (Access via laneway of Mouat Street). You can also request permission from the person to contact a family member or friend to come and take them to see a GP or Emergency Services. If no other help is available call Lifeline 13 11 14 or one of the Emergency Services listed above.

    What do I do if I feel at risk of being harmed by someone or that someone is at risk of harming others?

    If you are concerned that someone will harm you or others, try and ask someone for help immediately and call the Police 131 444 or 000.

  • Online Resources

    If you’re trying to improve your own mental health, or support somebody else with mental health issues you can use the government Head to Health search engine to find trusted Australian online and phone supports, resources and treatment options. We have also listed some helpful sites below.

    Healthy Living

    Supporting Your Mates

    Alcohol & Other Drugs

    Healthy Workplaces

    • Heads up (Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance & beyondblue)

    Managing Relationships

    Loss & Grief

    Mental Health & Families

    Depression

    Bipolar

    Anxiety & Panic Disorders

    Trauma

    Eating Disorders

    Stress

    Bullying

    Anger & Violence

    Learning Disorders

    ADHD

    Disability

    Deliberate Self-harm

    Suicide

    Internet Safety