New plan to improve student mental health

More than a dozen mental health-related and volunteer agencies are taking part in Flinders Mental Health Week activities. Mr Andrew Wood (pictured, centre), Head of Health, Counselling and Disability Services encouraged students to get involved in volunteering. “There is good evidence that doing some sort of volunteering – even for two hours a week – is good for your mental health.”
More than a dozen mental health-related and volunteer agencies are taking part in Flinders Mental Health Week activities. Mr Andrew Wood (pictured, centre), Head of Health, Counselling and Disability Services encouraged students to get involved in volunteering. “There is good evidence that doing some sort of volunteering – even for two hours a week – is good for your mental health.”

A new Student Mental Health Action Plan is to be developed at Flinders University in response to last year’s National Summit on the Mental Health of Tertiary Students.

The initiative will be announced today by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Andrew Parkin at a function marking the University’s annual Mental Health Week.

Head of Health, Counselling and Disability Services, Mr Andrew Wood (pictured, centre) said the University was seeking the input of students and staff, as well as mental health practitioners, to develop the Plan.

“There has been a growing recognition, particularly in the past five years, in universities all around Australia that mental illness is a significant issue for university students,” Mr Wood said.

“It affects not only the student’s quality of life: it affects their ability to study, their ability to do well – and it can also play a part in whether students finish degrees at all,” he said.

Following the Summit, a set of guidelines was released covering areas such as mental health awareness and promotion, staff training, accessibility to support services and communication.

“It’s a comprehensive set of ‘best practices’ which encourages universities to see student mental health as everyone’s business – not just the business of counsellors and doctors,” Mr Wood said.

“It’s something that affects students but also impacts on staff in various ways.”

Mr Wood said that in addition to providing student mental health awareness training for general and academic staff, an important focus of the Plan would be to help students become more resilient.

“That’s part of mental health promotion: how to help students cope with life’s often complex pressures and to help them build their own resourcefulness to deal with life.”

As part of its strategy to increase awareness of and support for mental health, Flinders will add a new online mental health resource to the University website.

Developed by the University of Queensland, The Desk is a self-help website that offers information on topics such as procrastination, study skills and improving your mood. It will appear on the Current Students homepage in a version that is specific to Flinders resources and support.

Flinders students or staff wishing to contribute to the Student Mental Health Action Plan can contact Health, Counselling and Disability Services by email or by phoning 8201 2118.

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