Volume 15, Issue 1, 2021

Special Edition: Innovative Ways Forward in Mental Health and Higher Education Practices


Guest Editor: Prof. Margaret Anne Carter

Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP), Brisbane, Australia



Forward by Prof. Margaret Anne Carter

Pages i to iii




Why Librarians Matter in the Promotion of Mental Health Literacy in Higher Education

Dr. Philip Kwaku Kankam1, Frank Darkwa Baffour2, 1Department of Information Studies, University of Ghana., 2College of Arts, Society and Education, James Cook University.

All over the world, mental health problems have been found to affect persons and institutions negatively. It has contributed to poor academic performance, education dropout rates and poor output in higher educational institutions.  In order to develop suitable interventions on mental health for use in higher education settings, it is important to promote and strengthen the Mental Health Literacy (MHL) of staff and students. Particularly, tertiary students and staff need to acquire relevant knowledge so they can act and deal with mental health problems. This study investigated how well librarians could be, or are, positioned to promote and strengthen MHL in higher education. Using relevant keywords and search strategies, 46 articles were retrieved from two databases (LISTA and PubMed). The literature analysis was fused into a narrative review report based on themes. The study reveals that librarians are perfectly positioned to promote and strengthen MHL in higher education with their skills and expertise to serve as keepers of mental health information; facilitators of mental health information literacy; and liaisons to students and staff who strive to improve their MHL. The study recommends the need for stakeholders to observe and develop continuing interest of MHL within librarianship. Pages 1 to 17




Embedding Graduate Resilience into Legal Education for a Disrupted 21st Century

Dr. Ozlem Suslera, Dr. Alperhan Babacanb, aLecturer, Law, Latrobe University Law School, bBarrister & Solicitor of the Supreme Court (Vic) and High Court of Australia.  

Whilst a fundamental role of legal education is to ensure that graduates are adequately prepared for professional practice, it cannot be said that legal education holistically prepares graduates to cope with the complexities of the 21st Century which is characterised by significant change and disruption.This paper commences with a critical review of the current context, scope and practice of resilience in higher education. Much of the work on resilience undertaken in higher education has focused on the provision of supports to students to transition into university and to cope within an academic setting. Narrow conceptions of resilience which focus on perseverance, as opposed to an adaptive and developmental construct, are context specific and likely to be short lived. It is advanced that resilience building activities for professional practice following graduation can benefit from the incorporation of transformative pedagogies which will provide law graduates with skills relating to endurance and understanding for a disrupted and changing career in the legal profession following graduation. Concentrating on the centrality of critical reflection, dialogue and experiential learning, teaching and learning strategies which are grounded in critical and emancipatory pedagogies are suggested to be incorporated into legal education, as a means of building graduate resilience. Pages 18 to 33




Promoting Mental Health through Creativity in Social Work Practice: The Role of Preparation and Self-Care

Associate Professor Justin Francis Leon V. Nicolas, University of the Philippines Diliman, College of Social Work and Community Development

This article is based on the author’s PhD thesis at the University of Newcastle Australia. The study is a product of original research. The original contribution of the study includes the first historical literature review on creativity in social work practice.  The study also contributes by theorizing on the dimensions and process of creativity in social work practice. In this article, the author focused on results and portions of the theorizing relevant to mental health and self-care. It contributes to knowledge of self-care as preparation for creative practice, and overall, understanding the role of creativity in social work practice. Purpose: This paper discusses part of the findings of the author’s graduate thesis research at the University of Newcastle, NSW ‘Articulating creativity in social work practice’. It aims to describe how self-care and health, as part of the preparation for creative practice, assists in the promotion of mental health both for the practitioner and the service user. The paper aims to give an overview of the factors that promote and inhibit creativity in social work but focuses on the personal and professional factors where self-care and health are discussed. Subsequently, it introduces the form of creativity that social workers identified in the study and focuses on the integrative-reflexive level and presents a beginning theory how self-care and health are related to creative practice. Methods and Procedures: The author interviewed 18 social workers from 8 countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, UK and US) using Skype as medium and asked of the their understanding of creativity, ideas of creative practice, how social workers are creative in their work, meanings of creativity, conditions for creativity, valuing creativity, and factors holding creativity in the margins. The author introduced creative critical phenomenology which combined phenomenology and critical realism to highlight the lived experiences of the participants on creativity and self-care and explain the connection of self-care and mental health to creativity in social work practice by re-examining literature on creativity and self-care. New Results: All participants revealed a paradox behind the facilitating and hindering factors of creativity in social work practice. Participants identified wellbeing and mental health as one of the major factors that could influence the practitioner’s creativity. Several participants experienced being most creative during periods of optimum health. Conclusions: Self-care as preparation for creative practice is achieved through the combination of the use of personhood, engaging in creative activities, healthy living, and developing creative habits.  Self-care and being healthy help prepare the social worker for creative practice and at the same time creative practice leads the social worker to self-care and creative living. This paper provides recommendations for practitioners in developing creative habits and mental health in preparing for creative practice and discusses implications for human and social development. In turn, it shows how 10 habits of creative social workers promote mental health and self-care. Pages 34 to 56




COVID-19: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Future of Social Work

Hyacinth Udaha, Abraham Francis,b abSocial Work, and Human Services, College of Arts, Society, and Education (CASE), James Cook University, Australia

Social workers have essential life-saving roles, possessing many important skills to help clients and community access services, and obligation to facilitate equality of outcomes. In this time marked by a pandemic, we are becoming more aware of the importance of futuring for social work. Social work’s response to the COVID-19 crisis is critical now and in the future. This article attempts to bring attention to ways social work as an idea, as a project, as an institution, and as a profession might respond and change due to what is happening (COVID-19 pandemic) and grow in dealing with future challenges. It makes contribution to social work’s response to COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. It suggests that the success of social work is very much dependent on social work educators, researchers and practitioners recognising the current challenges as opportunities, and responding in ways that advance social work profession’s theories, models, and practice framework. Pages 57 to 74




Tails of Canine Co-Counselling

Dr Bronwyn Robson (BAppSci (Micro/Biochem); BAppSci (Hons-PopGen); GradDipEdStud; MCouns; PhD) – The University of Queensland, Student Services – Student Affairs Division.

Having animals in their lives can provide people with physical health, mental health and social benefits (Fung, 2017). At the University of Queensland, an Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) program has been trialled, which aims to validate the value of this treatment modality in a tertiary context. A team of counsellor, trained therapy dog and professional dog handler worked individually with students experiencing a range of well-being concerns. The program has demonstrated that a therapeutic Animal-Assisted Intervention (AAI) program can be successfully implemented in a university counselling service to provide measurable (using the Feedback Informed Treatment Outcomes Rating Scale/Session Rating Scale measure (Miller & Bargmann, 2012)) benefits to students. A small number of therapy sessions equivalent in length to standard counselling sessions, and utilising a primarily Solution Focused Brief Therapy approach, has provided the best results to date. Further potential refinements are explored. Pages 75 to 100




Weathering the Storm: Community Impact

Danielle J. Rancie, James Cook University, Supervised by Dr Sarah Lutkin

Climate change is a growing concern in today’s society and extreme weather events (EWEs) are increasing every year. Attitudes towards climate change and the perception of EWEs on community wellbeing is paramount to mitigating future health risks. The aim of this study was to investigate predictors of climate change attitudes and how this impacts the perceptions of community wellbeing, community resilience, and EWEs. A quantitative study was conducted to measure opinions across the Australian general public with 124 people (76% female), aged between 18-73 years (M = 38.98, SD = 13.36) from rural (53%) or urban (47%) regions of Australia. Participants completed an online survey examining demographics, climate change attitudes, exposure to EWEs, community wellbeing, community resilience, perceptions of severity and harm. Overall, climate change attitudes had significant correlations with gender, age, education level, EWE, perceived severity and global warming concerns. Age, gender, and education accounted for 26% of the variability in climate change attitudes, while an additional 35% was explained by locality, EWE, place attachment, overall community wellbeing, future community wellbeing, community resilience, harm perceptions, perceived severity and global warming concern. Perceived severity being the only significant predictor of climate change attitudes when controlling for age, gender, and education. Climate change attitudes were significantly stronger in urban communities. Pages 101 to 125




Strengths Based Approach to Transinclusion in Indian Higher Education: A Way Towards Enhancing Mental Health and Well-Being

Catherine Elisa Johna, Abraham Francisb, aMPhil Research Scholar, Department of Social Work, University of Delhi, India, bAssociate Professor, Social Work and Human Services, College of Arts, Society and Education, James Cook University, Australia

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Constitution of India enshrines provisions on safeguarding the right to equality of all individuals. Trickling down to implementation, many are deprived of the same right of equality on the basis of their identities. Across the globe, the transgender community is one group among these vulnerable populations affected by the right to equality as evidenced by societal stigma and discrimination (Willging, Salvador, & Kano, 2006). Currently available research on transgender mental health and well-being suggest that anti-transgender discrimination creates a hostile and stressful social environment and is a direct correlate of lower mental health outcomes (Meyer, 2003). This research involving critical social work theory identifies social inclusion in various settings including education as a potential solution to improve mental health outcomes (Leonard & Metcalf, 2014). India’s first ever legislation on transgender rights, The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 falls short of including the right to educational opportunities and reservation in educational institutions among its provisions (Padhi & Mohanty, 2019). Failing to keep up with the contemporary global discourse on transgender persons' rights, the legislation took a myopic view, with the problem focused and pathology oriented approach. As an alternative to this approach, the authors of this chapter attempt to integrate a strengths-based approach into policy and legislations to facilitate trans-inclusion in India. Writing form an analytical and descriptive perspective, the authors proposes inclusion as an effective tool to enhance mental health and well-being of transgender persons. Pages 126 to 148




The Power of Language – Removing the Blocks: Conversations around Mental Health in Higher Education

Professor Margaret Anne Carter, Australian College of Applied Psychology and James Cook University

Conversations around mental health are growing in prominence and starting to become part of the fabric of higher education workplaces, with initiatives and resources being introduced to develop and sustain a culture of mental health and wellness. Academics are being asked to communicate more frequently with students and with one another about wellbeing and mental health and the institutional and community services available to them. This interaction is fundamental in promoting wellbeing and mental health help seeking behaviours in higher education. Exploring the conundrum of academics instigating conversations with students about their mental health and wellbeing, next moves for academics that fosters meaningful and enabling mental health and wellbeing conversations with students, are considered. Pages 149 to 164


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