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Mental health considerations for international students
journal contributionposted on 2021-09-20, 23:28 authored by Susannah Minutillo, Michelle ClearyMichelle Cleary, Andrew P Hills, Denis Visentin
Collectively, universities and other tertiary education providers globally, attract significant numbers of international students each year. However, the extent and significance of the benefits derived by the host society from this international mobility is often misunderstood, or at best, underestimated. International students commonly provide multiple benefits to the financial and cultural health of the host institution and country but the economic benefit (for the host) is typically the primary consideration. A potential challenge or circuit-breaker for host institutions is the failure to acknowledge the particular differences between the needs of international students and their domestic counterparts. For some international students, the adjustment to studying offshore and experiencing an array of academic and personal development possibilities not otherwise available to them in their home country, may be overwhelming and contribute to unforeseen and unfortunate consequences for their mental health. All students in new settings, irrespective of background, require strong guidance, advice and support. However, the challenges of acculturation and adjustment to the stressors of academic study and everyday life in another country is accentuated for many international students rendering them a vulnerable student population. Irrespective of the number of international students in an educational setting, and given the steady growth in the number of students seeking educational opportunities overseas, there is an urgent need to ensure that adequate resources are provided for the support of all international students across all aspects of academic life. The importance of maximising the benefits and minimising the risks associated with international study for overseas students cannot be overstated. A quality experience for all, underpinned by an evidence-based and resourced safety net of support with specific training for mental health professionals, should be considered a global industry standard.