IEPCP recently attended this one day Conference was hosted by the Centre for Holistic Health and Study Melbourne.
- 674,826 international students were enrolled in Australian educational institutions as of April 2019, an increase of 12% above enrolments in 2018. 30% are of Chinese-background.
- International students face significant challenges around adjusting to a new academic system, learning and coping with a new language, navigating a new culture, financial pressures, learning to be independent, managing crises in their lives and coping with study and life stressors.
- The evidence shows that 54% of international students experience psychological distress, yet only 9% seek help, and this is most often delayed. Increasing numbers of deaths by suicide and suicidal presentations highlight how important this issue has become.
- Factors impacting adversely on help seeking include: lack of mental health literacy; stigma associated with mental health (cultural perceptions, shame), influence of family and social networks , and perceptions about causation of mental illness/psychological distress (often viewed as a personality deficit).
- The evidence shows that building mental health literacy among Chinese international students contributes to positive peer support which can promote help seeking and resilience.
- While there are cultural differences, these findings have relevance to international students of other ethnic backgrounds.