Background: University students experience high levels of mental health problems; however, very few seek professional help. Teaching staff within the university are well placed to assist students to seek support. Aims: To investigate university teaching staff experiences of, and training needs around, assisting students with mental health problems. Method: A total of 224 teaching staff at the Australian National University completed an anonymous online survey (16.4% response rate from n ∼ 1370). Data on mental health training needs, and experiences of assisting students with mental health problems were described using tabulation. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Most teaching staff (70.1–82.2%) reported at least moderate confidence in their ability to provide emotional support for students. However, many staff (60.0%) felt under-equipped overall to deal with student mental health problems; almost half (49.6%) reported they did not have access to formal training. Specific actions described in assisting students included referrals, offering support, or consulting others for advice. Conclusion: Given the high rates of students who approach staff about mental health problems, there is a critical need to provide and promote both formal mental health response training and explicit guidelines for staff on when, how, and where to refer students for help.
- mental health
- teaching staff