Mental Health

Speech pathologists play an essential role in the multidisciplinary mental health team, providing key assessment information to assist with differential diagnosis, delivering intervention to overcome communication and swallowing difficulties, and informing policy development.

Individuals with communication difficulties are much more likely to experience social, emotional and behavioural challenges, including mental illness, than the general population, and a significant number of people living with mental ill-health have communication needs.

Communication difficulties frequently co-occur with neurodivergent conditions (e.g., ADHD, autism) and/or mental health needs (e.g., anxiety, depression) either as part of the condition itself or as a side effect of medication used to treat the condition or need.

People living with poor mental health are much more likely to develop swallowing disorders than the general population. Swallowing difficulties may occur as part of a neurodivergent condition or mental health need itself (e.g., autism, schizophrenia, dementia) or as a side effect of medication used to treat this condition or need. People with dysphagia are also at greater risk of experiencing mental health difficulties, such as anxiety and depression, in part because of the impact swallowing disorders can have on quality of life and social opportunities.

Information for the public, including links to training and resources for mental health clinicians, is available on this website.

Speech pathologists also work with individuals who have experienced trauma, either during childhood or as an adult. Please visit the Trauma page on this website for more information.

Fact sheets

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Podcast episodes

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Professional-learning resources

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Other useful materials

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Fact sheets

Speech Pathology Australia has published a fact sheet and infographic on mental health: Speech Pathology in Mental Health fact sheet (and Infographic).

The UK-equivalent to Speech Pathology Australia, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), has published the following fact sheets that complement the one published by Speech Pathology Australia:

Podcast episodes

Below are episodes relating to mental health that have been recorded by Speech Pathology Australia for its Speak Up podcast. Subscribe to the podcast for future episodes.

S02 Episode 6: Kids behaving badly: The link between behaviour and language - Dr Karen James

S01 Episode 12: Child and youth mental health - Ms Chantele Edlington

S01 Episode 16: Adolescent and adult inpatient mental health - Ms Gemma White and Ms Kelly Jones

S02 Episode 10: Managing COVID-19 related stress - Dr Claire Mayers

S02 Episode 14: Restrictive practices: What are they and why do speech pathologists need to know - Ms Breanne Hetherington and Ms Jo Wilkinson

S02 Episode 19: Speech pathology in older adult mental health - Ms Melanie Breese

S02 Episode 23: Accidental Counsellor PLUS - Mr Michael Burn

S03 Episode 35: Supporting the mental health needs of people with aphasia - Dr Caroline Baker

S04 Episode 19: A journey into paediatric feeding, infant mental health and responsive feeding therapy - Ms Carly Vaness and Ms Kate Broderick

S05 Episode 02: It’s All Around Us: Working with Mental Health Needs in Speech Pathology - Kerry Holland and Jessica Carpenter

S05 Episode 07: Mental health and trauma: Every Speech Pathologists Business - Kizzy Searle

Other professional-learning resources

The Speech Pathology Australia Learning Hub is the portal for accessing Professional Education offerings for speech pathologists. This includes face-to-face workshops, LIVE Online events, On Demand self-paced courses, Speak Up podcasts, webinars and more.

To access the range of education offerings relating to mental health and trauma:

  1. Log in to the Learning Hub. If you don’t have an account, you can make one by selecting ‘Create a new account’.
  2. Use the search bar to enter the key words ‘mental health’ or ‘trauma’. A list of the education offerings will be displayed.
  3. Select the ‘LEARN MORE’ button on the course(s) you are interested in.

NB. Professional Education is offered to Speech Pathology Australia members at discounted prices after signing into the Learning Hub.

The Lifeline x SPA: Accidental Counsellor PLUS: Supporting others and ourselves is particularly popular and runs regularly. Please search for available sessions on the Speech Pathology Australia Learning Hub.

Emerging Minds has developed a number of resources for a range of audiences including clinicians, parents/carers and educators:

Beyond Blue has developed a couple of mental health coaching programs that run over 6 sessions, are FREE and don't require a GP referral.

  • If you're an individual who would like to improve your ability to manage everyday life stresses such as work, study, relationships, health or loneliness, please see: NewAccess – mental health coaching
  • If you're a small business owner and keen to develop your skills around managing stress and overwhelm using straightforward problem-solving approaches, please see: NewAccess for Small Business Owners

Please note SPA does not recommend or endorse any specific non-SPA course so it will be important for you to assess whether they are likely to offer quality training and meet your unique learning needs.

Other useful materials

View the Speech Pathology in Mental Health Position Statement.

Members can access the Speech Pathology in Mental Health Practice Guideline.

Talking Trouble Aotearoa New Zealand


FAQs from SPA members: Mental Health This graphic is associated with the hyperlink that precedes it and indicates the document is in PDF..