Mental health challenges are not something you can choose or change when you need it. Since the worst part of dealing with a mental illness is being in a stressful environment, college life becomes more than most students can handle. While there are exams and lengthy lectures, the financial burden is still the worst. Thankfully, many funds and universities offer mental health scholarships for students that address permanent or temporary conditions.
According to Headspace & National Union of Students, nearly 65% of college students between 16-25 years confirmed high or very high levels of psychological distress, while about 35.4% had been thinking of self-harm or suicide.
Another research shows that about 4.3 million people have received mental health-related prescriptions in 2018-2019 with $9.9 billion spent on mental health in a period between 2017-2018.
Mental Health Issues Affecting College Students
Joining college is not an easy task even for the average student because it represents a different way of life with new responsibilities and tasks to be solved. As a rule, even a minor mental problem becomes a major issue when there is no additional support or the levels of stress cross the critical line. While most people will experience excessive anxiety or low mood from time to time throughout a college course, there are more serious challenges like thoughts of self-harm, suicide or panic attacks. Moreover, if a student senses no physical energy or motivation to study that comes along with the bad sleeping patterns, it is a solid reason to seek professional help.
Speaking of college students and definitions, the list of usual mental disorders includes but is not limited to:
Accommodations for Students with Mental Health Conditions
Accommodation represents one of the difficult aspects of staying at college even for students without any visible disability, which is why most educational institutions have relevant student assistance offices. Living with a mental illness places an additional strain on students as they need more space or quiet, depending on specific conditions. It is also one of the reasons why mental health scholarships are so important as they make it possible to apply for special study rooms or technical solutions that help while studying. After all, the key is to learn without stress or limitations.
The majority of colleges in Australia offer a special Mental Health Support office or Mental Coaching groups where all students can reach out for help and find out more about various boarding options. As a rule, all you share remains confidential since a professional healthcare specialist is assigned for your case. Most of the time, accommodation will include:
- A separate, quiet environment where an exam can be taken.
- A trained assistant that will share the room with you during the course.
- Special devices for taking notes or a person to assist you through the lectures.
- More time to complete lengthy tests and even different, simplified exams.
- Mental support coaching and additional tutoring.
- Extended deadlines with a customized list of subjects.
- Special medical appointments schedule aligned with the course.
Scholarships for Students with Mental Challenges in Australia
- Gregory and Dolores Farrell Scholarship. This scholarship deals with numerous kinds of disabilities ranging from having to use a wheelchair to mental struggles that have been received as a result of an injury. The value of each scholarship is $5,000. Although most submissions for 2020 are currently closed, the details for 2021 should appear as the new academic year starts. The scholarship assists with textbook expenses, accommodation, field trips, and transport to university.
- The Jared Monroe Foundation. If you are diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and undergo any kind of treatment, you may consider applying. You have to be attending a college or university as a full-time student at least by August 2020. The award of $2300 is used for tuition purposes, academic fees, books, room, and boarding. An application process also involves an essay question.
- The Microsoft disAbility Scholarship Award. The senior high school students or first-year college students can apply for this $5,000 award that lasts for a four-year course. If you have a disability, be it mental, physical, or a temporary condition, you can review this option. An applicant must be majoring in Engineering, Data Science, Computer Information System, Cybernetics, or Electronic Commerce. If you have a medical condition, PTSD case, or financial struggles, consider this option.
- Australian Disability and Indigenous Peoples' Education Fund. This fund supports people with physical and mental disabilities, as well as those who find it hard to learn due to a specific condition like feeling depressed, not being able to attend classes, or recovering from a trauma. Currently, it provides six grants (one month each) that are $2,500 in total. The applications period runs between March 31st and September 30th each year. The eligibility is considered after an interview and review of a person's unique situation.
- Centrelink Scholarship Award - Living Away From Home. While this is not among typical scholarships per se, it is another opportunity for students with mental issues to receive additional financial help while living at the campus. Including usual social payments, additional healthcare services, and the medical equipment lease where it is necessary, Centrelink payment system is an official assistance method for students facing mental difficulties. Moreover, you can apply for Austudy to receive additional employment help and social support if you are older than 25 years. While the payments are calculated on an individual basis, there are no deadlines or limitations.
- The University of Western Australia - Special Circumstances Postgraduate Award. Offering $30,000 scholarship and still being available for Australian and New Zealand citizens in 2020, this scholarship is based upon academic achievements, difficult financial situations, and mental disability cases. An important aspect of this scholarship is that it reviews more than health conditions by focusing on circumstances or events in a person's life. If a family's breakdown, the death of a close person, or any other traumatic event has affected one's academic life, it is where this postgraduate award fits in.
Tips on Finding Additional Scholarships
Finding additional mental help scholarships is not an easy task to accomplish if you are planning to look for such information with the help of Google alone. Since an average university program will either turn to special funds or publish information on a relevant website, it may not appear among the usual search engine listings. However, if you have already asked the Help Desk at your local university and had little luck, you can follow these simple tips that will provide you with more information:
- Combine your degree with a “scholarship” term. For example, you can type “Engineering Scholarships in Australia” to receive a list of awards that are relevant for your specific field. Looking further, contact the college or university in question to inquire about specific scholarships or any special conditions.
- Add your medical condition to the scholarship searching. Typing “PTSD scholarships for students” or “learning disability scholarships” will provide you with more results. Even if some website does not specify dealing with mental conditions in particular, it is still worth checking.
- Consider international funds as well. While some of them may be specific to certain countries, there are international options as well that provide assistance to students that show academic excellence and readiness to achieve success. Use terms like “Scholarship for international students” or “international disability scholarships” as the starting points.
Additional Mental Health Resources in Australia
- Beyond Blue. Anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention support. This organisation provides both physical and online support (chat online, forums), and video conference help for anyone battling mental issues.
- Headspace. One of the best resources for college students and youth in Australia. It provides dedicated support, research resources, scholarship information, future employment options, and community support for any mental disorder among other things.
- Black Dog Institute. A handy mental health app that can connect you with trained health professionals, regardless of your current condition.
- On the Line 24/7 Support. Accessible chat and video support available anywhere to anyone in need of urgent help or recommendation. It offers a team of trained counselors that assists regarding most learning or working matters. If you learn while battling a temporary health issue, this support line is essential.
Final Words of Support
Even if you have not considered a scholarship as a student with a mental illness, it is time to support yourself and gain financial independence. Unfortunately, most students in Australia do not consider additional help unless they are about to fail the course. As the majority of healthcare specialists will confirm, it is best to combine social help with available scholarship options. It will not only motivate us to do better but will provide much better accommodation and curriculum options. Living with a mental disorder should never become a barrier for learning and receiving help. Contact your local university, study CentreLink services, and let your disability turn into ability.