How to get help when you feel like you’re in too deep

It may be tempting to dismiss your hardship as another problem that isn’t important, but it’s vital that you speak up because people can only help you if they actually know what’s going on. Luckily, the Universtity has a bunch of services targeted at helping you overcome your challenges and find success.

Speak with a Student Progress Advisor

Student Progress Advisors are here to help you get through your studies and make the most of your time at university. They can help you access a range of free support services, as well as navigate the policies and procedures of the University.

Laura Hudson, a Senior Student Progress Advisor, explains that they are able to work with you to create an individualised success plan. This plan focuses on your potential to succeed, and can include referrals for further support so you can achieve the grades you want.

“We understand that life continues while you’re studying and we can discuss how to keep a healthy work, study, and life balance. If you’re studying on a student visa we can help you understand your rights and responsibilities as an international student here at the University of Newcastle,” she says.

“If you’re not feeling like you’re achieving what you want to, I would suggest you create a Progress to Success Plan to help you get back on track. Make an appointment to meet with a Student Progress Advisor and we will sit down with you to discuss everything that is going on and help you take the first steps to succeeding.”

You can get in touch with a Student Progress Advisor by dropping in to a Student Central location or by making an appointment online. If you’re not on campus you can call the AskUON Enquiry Centre on 4921 5000 and arrange an appointment, or you can email If you’re studying an Enabling Pathways program (Newstep, Open Foundation or Yapug) you should contact your dedicated Student Liaison Officer who can provide this support.

Catch-up with a Counsellor     

We spoke with Clinical Psychologist/Student Counsellor Dr. Emma Kerr, whose role involves working with students to help them resolve different challenges they may be facing.

“Some challenges might include academic problems such as anxiety, procrastination or perfectionism, problems with low mood, sleep difficulties, wanting to reduce drug or alcohol use, or relationship or family difficulties,” she said. “Alternatively, some students seek counselling to enhance their skills, relationships or wellbeing.”

All counsellors at the University are qualified as either a psychologist, clinical psychologist or social worker, so you know you’re in good hands.

Dr Kerr says the most important thing to remember when you’re struggling is that you’re not alone.

“Being a student is not always the cruisy ride often portrayed in the media or other student’s social media. Students are often juggling multiple challenges such as working to support themselves, high rent prices, maintaining some form of social life, navigating share house dynamics, pressure from themselves or others to perform well academically, maintaining or finding an intimate relationship, and possibly being away from family.”

Counselling & Psychological Services (CAPS) provide a range of free services, including consultations with a Wellbeing Advisor within a day or two, face to face and online counselling appointments, Online Drop In sessions via skype, after-hours phone support, and a range of resources to help students to improve their wellbeing and reach their academic potential. To request an appointment with a Counsellor or Wellbeing Advisor please complete our online form.

Once you have completed the form, we will contact you via phone or your University email. If you need assistance to complete the counselling registration form, please contact us on 4921 6622 or email from Monday to Friday, between 9:00am and 5:00pm.

Apply for Adverse Circumstances

Sometimes life unexpectedly throws something our way and we have to put uni on the backburner. This is where adverse circumstances kicks in. You can apply for adverse circumstances if you have:

  • Unavoidable commitments (eg religious commitments)
  • A serious injury or death of a close friend or family member
  • Hardship, including sudden unemployment, family breakdown, or a severe disruption to your living arrangements
  • Trauma, not limited to the impact of crime or accident and natural disasters
  • Health grounds, including physical illness and psychological issues

Students are required to submit a personal statement with their application but do not need supporting documentation for this semester. Once your application is processed, you will receive an email to your student email account with the outcome of your application. You can log into the adverse circumstances system in myUON.

Just Ask

You don’t have to suffer in silence. Sometimes just telling someone can be a massive burden off your shoulder.

“When things are tough it can be tempting to bury yourself in a bucket of ice cream or do the doona dive and hide from the world, however when you emerge from this cocoon the problem is likely to still remain,” says Dr Kerr.

She recommends staying actively engaged with the University, and attending events designed to help you stay on track, such as Stress Less activities.

Most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself. Even if you feel like you’re not achieving the goals you want, self-criticism won’t get you anywhere.

According to Dr Kerr, “Self-compassion is like a muscle that strengthens with practice – so be patient with yourself and keep practicing.”

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