Providing Learning Support for Students with Mental Health Difficulties Undertaking Fieldwork and Related Activities

Case Studies and Discussion Scenarios

Case study 3


One week residential fieldcourse based in university accommodation in the UK.

Mental health difficulty

Student found it difficult to relate to other students, despite encouragement from staff — was quiet and withdrawn.

Known by tutor at the time?

No, this was the problem — his condition had not been made known to the fieldwork staff even though the University and Head of Department knew (through a Disability Service Needs Assessment). This was a failure of the Head of Department to inform fieldwork staff.

Brief outline of responses made at the time

Extra time devoted to student in the field (who, perhaps for understandable reasons, was not forthcoming on their condition). If the student's condition had been known, fieldwork staff could have adapted the group activities before the visit, rather than in an ad hoc way in the field, for example through provision of tailored guidance on tasks and introduction of the student to a sympathetic peer group with which to undertake fieldwork before the visit.

On reflection, could the situation have been managed differently, and how could fieldwork planning, or communication with the student(s) or professionals before (or during) the events assisted?

The difficulty was the lack of information on the student for fieldwork staff. Access to the student's needs assessment would have enabled fieldwork staff to have adapted fieldwork activities along the lines mentioned above. There was no question about the student not being able to take part in the fieldwork; all that was needed was integration of special needs considerations into fieldwork planning.

Page updated 14 December 2001

GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock