Fossey, E., Bigby, C., Chaffey, L., Mealings, M., Willia, A., Serry, T., Venville, A., Oates, J. & Ennals, P. (2017). Supporting students with mental health issues and acquired brain injury: University teaching staff perspectives. Journal of the Australia and New Zealand Student Services Association,25(1), A. Andrews, C. Brugman. 15-25. Australia: Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association.
Students experiencing disability face many barriers in university education, which are often poorly understood by university teaching staff. This is more likely to be the case regarding students with non-apparent conditions, such as mental health issues and acquired brain injury. This study employed an online survey, supplemented by semi-structured interviews, to investigate the views and actions of teaching staff at one university in relation to supporting these two student groups: those with mental health issues and those with acquired brain injury. Survey responses indicated that university staff generally held positive views about both student groups, but that there was inadequate staff training to assist staff in knowing how to support these groups. Staff most commonly supported students by directly negotiating adjustments with students, maintaining regular contact, and using the university’s disability services. The results of this study support previous calls for improved staff training and also draw attention to the competing demands on staff of supporting student learning whilst managing other institutional forces at play in universities.