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This article reports findings from a qualitative case study, as part of which staff perspectives of student disclosure of mental health issues in an Australian post-secondary vocational education setting were explored. Twenty teaching and specialist support staff from four vocational education and training institutions participated in individual semi-structured interviews. Institutional policies and practices related to the management of disability at each site provided contextual information relevant to the staff experience. All data were analysed thematically. Staff participants strongly supported student disclosure of mental health issues. Staff linked the likelihood of course success for students experiencing mental illness with disclosure and the implementation of educational supports. Findings draw attention to subtle differences in constructions of student disclosure reported by the specialist support staff and the teachers: differences in perspective which were consistent across locations. This study highlights the influence of personal experience of mental illness and institutional processes for educational adjustment on staff perspectives of student disclosure. Implications of the current practices in post-secondary education student support services are discussed. Further research on disclosure beliefs among teachers and specialist support staff, in a wider range of educational settings, would allow for a deeper exploration of issues raised by this study.

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Journal Article

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