Our Self-help Library (February 2023) 📚


Our self-help library is there for students who wish to do some reading in the area of mental health, wellbeing and productivity and learn about different services, programs and tools they can use to improve their wellbeing. We constantly update and refine these guides so come back regularly to see what has changed. Reading time ~ as little or as much as you want!


If you’ve been to the Health, Counselling and Disability Service in years past, you might have noticed we had various pamphlets and handouts on the walls (a few of them still remain).

They were a mix of therapeutic exercises, information about programs, and information about external services.

We called it our Self-Help Library. The goal of the library was to put at your fingertips resources that you can use, separate to (or complementary to) individual face-to-face appointments you might have with professionals from our service.

Since starting the Library in 2018, we’ve distributed hundreds of these resources to students who visit the service, who meet us at stalls on O’week and Open Day or who have appointments with our counsellors or disability advisors.

In 2023, our ongoing goal is to transition to all of the guides being available as blog posts which are much easier to read on your computer, tablet and mobile device and to bookmark for reading later. We are also moving away from print copies which consume a lot of paper (trying to be more environmentally aware 🌳).

While this is happening, you will notice that some of the guides are PDF documents, whilst others are blog posts. Regardless, the content of what we provide won’t change, just the format. All can be accessed at the links below.

As part of the transition, we will also be introducing new ‘how to’ guides that tackle different wellbeing and mental health topics.

The ultimate goal is a comprehensive range of resources that students can use to address the most common challenges that students face:

If there is self-help/’how to’ information that you’d like that you can’t find in our library, contact me (gareth.furber@flinders.edu.au) and I should be able to direct you to something appropriate.

And if you’d rather do a program with other people then visit this post which provides an overview of the wellbeing programs coming out of HCDS and Oasis.

 

The main guides

These are our major guides. The ones we keep up-to-date and cover some of the most important topics.

Self-care mega guide – an (admittedly) long journey through the various behaviours and practices that constitute good self-care. We cover:

  • advanced study skills
  • building positive emotions
  • managing challenging emotions
  • becoming a better thinker
  • developing self-awareness and understanding
  • searching for meaning, purpose and identity
  • building and maintaining supportive relationships
  • caring for your body
  • modifying your environment
  • financial control
  • unwinding and recharging
  • helping others

 

Evidence-based study and exam preparation tips – an ever-growing collection of study and exam preparation strategies drawn from my readings of sites like Learning Scientists and Retrieval Practice, as well as the wisdom of the counsellors who have been working with students on these issues for many years. The guide covers:

  1. preparing yourself for success, that is, what conditions do you need to get in place in order to be a good student
  2. how to make the most out of lectures and tutorials
  3. how to get all that information into your head
  4. how to get all that information out of your head
  5. strategies that don’t work that we all still use anyway
  6. embracing the social side of study
  7. how to find the fun in study
  8. common writing traps and how to deal with them
  9. finding balance between studies and the rest of your life
  10. what to do when things don’t go so well
  11. further reading

 

Getting Off To A Good Start Guide – a guide for new students on how to get off to the best start possible at uni. Covers things like:

  • Know your way around
  • Getting off to a good start with your studies
  • Know what is involved in being a successful student
  • Allocate an appropriate amount of time to your studies
  • Use evidence-based study techniques
  • Use available services for study tips, writing and assignments
  • Tackle procrastination directly
  • Know your advocates
  • Get off to a good start by looking after yourself
  • Engage in self-care
  • Ensure any known health or mental health conditions are being well managed
  • Try not to isolate yourself
  • Familiarise yourself with the support environment
  • Further reading

 

How to prepare yourself psychologically for work placements – Work placements provide you with valuable hands-on experience, helping you to develop practical skills and gain real-world insights into your chosen field of study. Work placements can also help you to build professional networks and make connections in your industry, which can be beneficial for your future career prospects. Given this, I’ve collected together some of my (and others) advice on making the most of work placements. Sections include:

  • Know what to expect
  • Clarify what you want to get out of the placement and put things in place to make that happen
  • Clarify what kind of impression you want to leave at the workplace
  • Get your own health and wellbeing in check
  • Routines – timetabling and self-care
  • Portraying competence
  • Plan for challenging emotions to arise
  • The importance of communication and feedback
  • Notice and name perfectionism
  • Self-reflection
  • Finding meaning and purpose, even in a placement that isn’t your interest area
  • Networking
  • Take the time to self-reflect on what skills you are developing on placement (work skills for the future)
  • Ask yourself if this is a job you can imagine yourself doing

 

Health Service Information

HCDS and OASIS – programs and services 2022 Access a video about what we do at HCDS and also our service brochure that provides a more detailed overview of all the programs and services we offer.

How to do a counselling session – some tips on making the most of your counselling sessions.

The full Health, Counselling and Disability Services brochure – a more complete overview of what we do at HCDS and Oasis.

 

Support services at Flinders, in the community and online ⛑

How to access CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) online – CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is a style of therapy that looks at how our thoughts and beliefs shape our emotional experiences. It is one of the most widely tested and supported models of psychotherapy. CBT lends itself well to being adapted to online programs, so there are quite a few websites in Australia where you can do an online version of CBT for free or very low cost. We’ve collated some of those websites in this post. Useful if you are looking for therapeutic options for addressing common mental health conditions like depression or anxiety.

Digital resources for your mental health – The internet has opened up many alternative avenues to get support from chat services, forums, online courses, community sites, crisis response services, mobile apps, and online therapy. We try to keep a track of some of the main ones so you don’t have to. This handout contains links to a range of different online supports.

How to get help in the community – It is normal to need help as one progresses through life. Whilst a student at Flinders, many support services are available to you as a student. But at times you might need to rely on community based services. This guide provides advice on finding the right community services for you.

Phone and chat services – Old School and New School phone and chat services, for when you need someone to speak to. You might be surprised just how many chat (phone, online, email) there are.

How to find good health-related mobile apps – There are thousands of mobile apps for health and wellbeing nowadays, but very few of them have actually demonstrated any health benefits. In this guide learn how to find and assess health-related mobile apps, by drawing on repositories of reviewed apps and asking yourself a few reflection questions.

Other wellbeing-focused services in the university – HCD and OASIS aren’t the only groups in the university that have your health and wellbeing in mind. We try to keep a track of other groups in the university that you might find useful.

Chinese speaking practitioner guide (only available in hard copy at the service). It looks like this:

 

Improving your mental health and productivity

12 best areas of life to optimise to balance performance and wellbeing – in the ongoing quest for work-life or study-life balance, what are the areas of life we should be optimising to manage the demands of university study.

An introduction to mental fitness – Updated in  2021, this handout goes into detail on the topic of mental fitness and how to build it.

How do I start making improvements in my life? – Now I am not saying that you aren’t great the way you are, but you know and I know that we could probably all make improvements to some aspect of our lives. I certainly can. In this document I look at different areas of your life that you could work on, and where you might start in that process.

Put Off Procrastinating Workbook – Thanks to the kind people at CCI, we now have a self-guided workbook dedicated to helping students tackle one of the most common student problems – procrastination.

Brief self-compassion guide – a couple of exercises to help you develop self-compassion, the ideal antidote to self-criticism.

Self-care Mega Guide  – Self-care is anything you do to look after your mental, physical, social, spiritual or environmental health. There are many ways you can achieve this, and we been collecting those ways for a while. This guide gives you a lot to think about in terms of how you build the best version of yourself possible.

How to prepare yourself psychologically for work placements – Work placements are amazing opportunities to get a taste for what it will be like to work in your profession. In this guide we let you know what you can do to prepare yourself for these placements to get the most out of them.

Evidence-based study and exam preparation tips – When you arrive at uni, there is an assumption you know ‘how to learn’ but if you are like me, no-one ever actually sat me down and told me how best to learn and memorise new information. Fortunately, cognitive scientists have been studying this for a long time. In this document I outline the best learning strategies for getting all that course information into your head (and then out again for exams).

Be your own counsellor – A simple problem-solving framework that you use to become your own counsellor.

Public speaking anxiety – Just a few things to remember when you are public speaking, that might help calm those nerves.

Personal rules and beliefs – Many times when I’ve got ‘stuck’ in life, I’ve ultimately discovered that it was related to certain rules I held in my head about how the world works. Turns out it isn’t just me. One of the main goals of therapy is to understand the subconscious rules that we are following that aren’t helping us engage effectively with life. In this handout, I start that exploration process.

Building New Habits – We’ve all tried to start a new health behaviour and then found ourselves, 2-weeks later, reverting back to our old behaviour. In this guide we look at the different methods that health psychologists have used to help people make lasting changes to their lifestyle.

Getting off to a good start 2022 – A guide for those students just starting out, or returning for a new study year, who want to get off to the best start possible. Incorporates our self-care and evidence-based study tips guides along with some new information.

A guide to self-improvement – Whether you’ve realised it or not, you are at uni to build a better version of yourself. In this guide we dig into the process of self-improvement so you can get better at getting better!

Methods for dealing with negative self-talk – For when that voice in your head starts to get a little too critical.

How to manage your time – If you are like me you have lots of things you want to do and limited time to do them all. How you manage your time is therefore important. In this guide I share the best time management tips I have discovered along the way.

Preparing for exams – the series – a set of blog posts exploring different aspects of exam preparation.

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome – When that voice inside your head tells you that you are a fraud and you don’t deserve your success, here is what to do.

I want to build a better life – a quick look at the different ways that people go about improving their life.

🆕Mindfulness for Academic Success – A brief guide – Mindfulness for Academic Success is an innovative student productivity program consisting of 5 x 60-minute sessions over five weeks. A 1-hour introductory session has recently been created that gives students a taster for what is covered in the full program. That taster session has an accompanying workbook which is linked here. A good chance to get a feel for what is covered in the program.

 

Guides focused on the intersection of mind and body

Yoga mega guide (incorporates the 3 below) – Mindful Yoga teacher Maureen outlines 3 simple ways to use yoga to improve wellbeing. Make sure to also check our Maureen’s ongoing blog series – Yoga Insights.

Yoga for calm – exercises for finding some peace

Yoga to energise – exercises to get you ready to go!

Yoga for restful sleep – exercises to help with slumber

Desk Yoga – a visual guide on how to create a refreshing study break using desk yoga

 

 

Disability

A quick guide to preparing a disclosure script – A guide for those with disability who are wondering just how much they should disclose to others about their condition

 

Resources co-developed with students

Bouncing back after an episode of mental ill health – We work with student Clara to develop a guide for students who are studying with mental ill health. In this guide we look at the steps you need to take to bounce back after a period of mental ill health.

 

Safety and crisis

My coping plan – A guide written by you, for your future self, to let you know what to do if times get tough.

How to cope when things get really tough – Difficult times will happen to all of us. Loss, illness, crises. When they do, it is important to try to keep basic self-care in place, so you have the energy and focus necessary to make it through. In this post, our counsellors highlight a range of important self-care activities to consider in the middle of difficult times.

 

Resources for specific groups of students

So you decided to do a PhD! – A self-care guide written specifically for those doing a PhD.

How to prepare yourself for your dietetics placements – A document prepared specifically for Masters of Dietetics students who are about to go out on clinical placements. This document addresses standard self-care principles but also digs in a bit into some of the aspects of clinical placements that students can find challenging, including coping with perfectionism and dealing with critical feedback.

 

Further reading (in case you aren’t already overloaded!)

You might be interested in our Wellbeing Reading List which contains newsletters and sites we think provide good coverage of wellbeing and mental health concepts.

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