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.
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.
We’ve developed or found quite a few guides over the years, so we’re currently organising them into three main groups.
- Our Main Guides is a small selection of our most popular and regularly updated guides. These are developed and maintained in-house. They cover self-care, study strategies, getting started at uni and managing the psychological challenges of placements/internships.
- Our Other Guides is the full catalogue of other guides that we’ve developed along the way – some might be showing their age a little 👴 Slowly over time we are taking some of the content from these guides and building it into our Main Guides.
- Guides Produced by Others includes links to self-help materials that we’ve found online that we think you might find helpful.
The ultimate goal is a comprehensive range of resources that students can use to address the most common challenges that students face:
- develop the psychological and behavioural skills necessary for good mental health and high performance
- learn about the many services within the university, online and in the local community;
- find out about the many wellbeing-related programs run by Health, Counselling and Disability Services and OASIS
If there is self-help/’how to’ information that you’d like that you can’t find in our library, contact me (email@example.com) 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.
These are our major guides. The ones we keep up-to-date and cover some of the most important topics for students.
⭐ 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:
- preparing yourself for success, that is, what conditions do you need to get in place in order to be a good student
- how to make the most out of lectures and tutorials
- how to get all that information into your head
- how to get all that information out of your head
- strategies that don’t work that we all still use anyway
- embracing the social side of study
- how to find the fun in study
- common writing traps and how to deal with them
- finding balance between studies and the rest of your life
- what to do when things don’t go so well
- 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
- Finding meaning and purpose, even in a placement that isn’t your interest area
- 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
All of our other guides, organised into different categories.
Health Service Information
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.
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
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.
Many mental health focused sites distribute excellent self-help materials. Here is a selection of some of our favourites.
The Centre for Clinical Interventions produces a great selection of self-help resources for mental health problems covering topics like: anxiety, assertiveness, appearance concerns, bipolar, body dysmorphia, depression, disordered eating, perfectionism, procrastination and more.
Open Arms provides mental health support to veterans and their families. But they also have a great selection of interactive self-help tools on their website.
eMHPrac maintains a ‘Digital Mental Health Directory‘ that provides a useful overview of various self-guided Australian online and teleweb programs.
Psyche is an online magazine that has accumulated an excellent selection of guides that provide “practical know-how that you can use in your own life, written by experts from a wide array of disciplines”.