Supporting mentally-healthy students and future professionals

Educational psychologist Hyacinth da Gama Monteiro

Hyacinth da Gama Monteiro, educational psychologist at CIC Higher Education, encourages students to always maintain communication lines with their lecturers and student support staff to avert possible issues that may affect their studies and overall well-being.

Her extensive experience working with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds has taught her that most students are hesitant to ask for help or seek counselling due to the stigma attached to the state of their mental health.

Hyacinth has over 30 years of combined experience as an educator and psychologist in India, the United States and Australia. Originally from India, she lived and worked in the US as a school psychologist and special education coordinator for 15 years before finally relocating to Australia in 2009. She set up her private practice in Melbourne and was hired by CIC in the same year. For 10 years now, she has been making herself available at the CIC campus every Thursday.

She’s registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and Australian Counselling Association (ACA) as a psychologist/clinical counsellor.  She’s also a member of the Australian Psychological Society (MAPS), Victorian Teaching Association (VIT) and Australian Psychological Society (APS).

Counselling services

Students can make an appointment by emailing or calling Hyacinth. “However, if the matter is urgent, I would always see a student at risk even without an appointment,” she says.

Hyacinth and her colleagues at the CIC Student Welfare Team make available the following services at the CIC campus:

  1. Provide support services to students and staff taking into account the diversity of cultures and diversity of religious obligations;
  2. Identify student issues and needs and assist them in dealing with these issues;
  3. Respond quickly to students in need or in crisis, taking into account the religious and cultural differences among students;
  4. Counsel students referred by the academic staff; and
  5. Establish a network of external services in the event that other specialist support or assistance is required.

The CIC Student Welfare Team comprises Hyacinth and two other psychologists.

Maintaining confidentiality of information

Students are provided confidential, non-judgemental services in a quiet supportive environment. “There are times when students do not wish to see a psychologist because they feel that having mental health issues is a shame to their family,” she says, “thus, it is very important to establish trust and maintain good rapport.”

Hyacinth adds that there are limits to confidentiality and the CIC Student Welfare Team is responsible for informing students about it. The CIC Senior Management Team has ultimate duty of care for all students, and there may be occasions when it is necessary for a psychologist to disclose client information to them to avert the risk of harm to a student or other person.

“In this sort of situation, I need to assess whether there is a real and immediate danger to the student or another person. Is the student likely to kill or injure himself or herself or cause harm to others? Is the student at serious risk of harm from other persons or situational factors (homelessness, drug or alcohol abuse)? As a psychologist, I am responsible for taking the necessary steps to avert the risk of harm to my students or clients,” she concludes.

CIC Student Welfare Service is a free and confidential service available to all students. Counsellors are located on level 3, 108 Lonsdale street and can be contacted via councellors@cic.vic.edu.au.