Personal Crisis

Every now and then life can throw you a curve ball. Crises often come when we least expect them and can greatly affect our ability to function, including our ability to study.

A crisis might take many forms: moving house in exam week, being robbed, harassed or assaulted, facing illness or death, or losing your job. Sometimes a crisis situation can be triggered by internal stressors such as depression with negative self talk. In each case a crisis is an event which demands your attention.

Seeking assistance as soon as possible will help you to address a range of issues that you may not have considered. Early help can also significantly improve your ability to cope with what has happened and the impact it may have on your studies.

Remember, UniSA’s free and confidential counselling service is always here to help.

Coping in a crisis

The way you respond to a crisis will be unique to you and dependent on the circumstances in your life at the time.

During the early phase of a crisis, you may experience emotional and psychological distress, physical discomfort and possibly behave in unfamiliar ways. You may find it hard to function as you normally would, despite wanting to do so. At different times you may experience a mixture of reactions, which could be disorienting or confusing. For example, you might find yourself experiencing some of the following:

  • being watchful and on guard
  • unusual tiredness and/or inability to sleep
  • difficulty in thinking clearly
  • repetition of thoughts and images related to the experience
  • irritability and/or anxiety
  • feelings of being unsafe and/or vulnerable
  • depression
  • questions of self-doubt about your worth
  • change in your life goals or your orientation towards life


Why you may need help in a crisis

It may be hard for you to discern what is best for you during this time, so seeking support can be really helpful. Many of the reactions mentioned above result from increased adrenalin or shock. While these are normal responses, their effects make it difficult to consider long term strategies, concentrate on studies or function adequately. These reactions can also make it hard to recognise your need for support from others and that the situation is beyond your ability to deal with alone.

If you do not obtain assistance early on after experiencing a crisis, you may prolong your personal distress and reduce your ability to study effectively. In addition, you may need to consider some longer term consequences. Seeking assistance early can be helpful.

Often people around you – your friends, family or even academic staff at uni – may notice a change in your behaviour and suggest you seek help. Don’t ignore them!

Where to find help

Make an appointment at UniSA’s free and confidential counselling service. Or for immediate help in a crisis:

  • Daytime: call Campus Central
  • After Hours: UniSA Out-of-Hours Crisis Line: 1300 107 441 or text 0488 884 163 (5:00pm to 9:00am weekdays and 24hrs weekends and public holidays)
    If you are involved in a serious or distressing incident on campus contact Security for assistance
  • Any time: call Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
  • Emergencies: call 000 for police/fire/ambulance

How can a UniSA counsellor help?

If your wellbeing or studies are affected, a University counsellor can help you access the appropriate specialised services in the community and negotiate with academic staff.

For example, you may have fallen behind in your assignment work or be finding it difficult to attend classes. Negotiating some modifications may make it possible for you to continue with your study and successfully complete your course requirements.

Some of the topics you may explore with a counsellor can include:

  • discussing and assessing your level of physical and emotional distress and current safety
  • looking at your available support – family, friends and community services
  • working out any long term needs that require immediate action
  • assisting you to explain your circumstances to relevant academic staff and gain the special
  • consideration appropriate for your circumstances
  • exploring any financial implications of this crisis

If you experience a crisis or know someone you suspect is in a crisis, it is recommended that you contact Campus Central as soon as possible.

Need further assistance?

Contact Campus Central

Your one-stop-shop for student services. UniSA general enquiries: 1300 301 703.