Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan 2019-2022

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Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan 2019-2022

Breadcrumbs

Vision

We envision USC as a community that supports the mental health and wellbeing for its students throughout their university studies.

Goal

We aim for students to have the knowledge and skills, supported by a University that creates a healthy learning environment, to take greater control of their health and wellbeing.

Objectives

The USC Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Working Group is building collaborations across the University to enhance student mental health and wellbeing by:

  1. Fostering engaging curricula and learning experiences
  2. Cultivating supportive social, physical and digital environments
  3. Strengthening community awareness
  4. Developing students' mental health knowledge and skills
  5. Ensuring access to effective services and wellbeing initiatives

Context

There is a growing body of evidence concerned with the need to address the mental health and wellbeing of Australian university students.1,2 Healthy students are better placed to have a successful student experience while at university. The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) acknowledges its contribution to supporting the health and wellbeing of its diverse student population. USC is committed to creating healthy learning environments for students and has a history of developing health and wellbeing initiatives in collaboration with students and staff.

Healthy Universities

Internationally, particularly in the United Kingdom, a Health Promoting University (HPU) approach has been practised at many universities for over a decade, highlighting numerous benefits to the health and wellbeing of a university community.3 Increasingly, Australian universities are adopting HPU frameworks to guide the coordination of their health and wellbeing initiatives. In 2016, 34 Australian universities, including USC, formed the Australian Health Promoting Universities Network to collaborate on adopting whole-of-university health strategies.

With the growth of the Sippy Downs campus, the expansion in recent years to campuses in Gympie, South Bank, the Fraser Coast and Caboolture, and the development of a new campus in Moreton Bay in 2020, there is a need to ensure that all students have equal access to resources to support their health and wellbeing, and opportunities to be involved in health and wellbeing initiatives.

USC Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan

The USC Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan is based on the Framework for Enhancing Student Mental Wellbeing.4 The Plan takes a broad view of health to address the mental health and wellbeing needs of USC students. Successful implementation of the Plan requires collaboration across the University. The Plan supports the personal development of USC students to have a positive influence on their peers, in the community and in their future careers.

Strategic alignment

The USC Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan aligns with existing University strategies. In particular, the Plan supports the USC Strategic Plan 2019-2022 commitment to the health, safety and wellbeing of students. The Plan contributes to the USC Student Engagement & Retention Blueprint 2017-2020 imperative to enable support for learning - Integrated, proactive, timely access to life and learning support.

Action area 1: Foster engaging curricula and learning experiences

We recognise the value of engaging learning experiences in supporting academic success and student wellbeing. We will actively seek opportunities to embed health and wellbeing content in curriculum and support health and wellbeing initiatives in teaching, learning and research environments.

Goal: Enhance student mental health and wellbeing through curricula and learning experiences that build competence, foster intrinsic motivation and create social connections.

Actions Timeframe Responsibility
1.1 Embed resources into the curriculum of each School to support the students’ wellbeing and learning experiences  December 2019

Manager, Support for Learning

Manager, Counselling Services

Manager, AccessAbility Services

FYE Coordinator, C-SALT
1.2 Implement a Wellbeing Liaison program for each School to improve awareness of services and collaboration December 2019 Human Resources (HSW)
1.3 Promote teaching and learning resources that support student health and wellbeing Ongoing FYE Coordinator, C-SALT
1.4 Maintain a MyUSC page and/or collaboration site as a repository for resources/links Ongoing Student Health Coordinator
1.5 Engage in research on teaching practices that support student wellbeing December 2019 Preparatory & Enabling Unit
Action area 2: Cultivate supportive social, physical and digital environments

We support healthy learning environments with initiatives to promote the health and wellbeing of students at each campus. We will facilitate collaboration among student groups and staff units to support student mental health and wellbeing among the diverse USC student cohort. We will provide a range of online and print student mental health and wellbeing resources.

Goal: Support the health and wellbeing of students by creating and maintaining healthy organisational, learning, cultural, social and natural environments.

Actions Timeframe Responsibility
2.1 Update and expand online mental health and wellbeing resources, and ensure content is accessible for all students  December 2019 Student Health Coordinator
2.2 Promote the safety of students on campuses Ongoing Safe USC Community Team
2.3 Training for staff to support student mental health and wellbeing Ongoing Counselling Services
Human Resources (HSW)
2.4 Training and support for Wellbeing Peer Leader activities Ongoing Student Health Coordinator
2.5 Student mental health and wellbeing needs analysis December 2019 Student Health Coordinator
2.6 Develop a toolkit to help staff to support students with mental health conditions. July 2020 Manager, Counselling Services
Action area 3: Strengthen community awareness

We support student groups and student leaders to raise awareness of health and wellbeing issues that affect students. We provide students with evidence-based resources to take greater control of their health and wellbeing.

Goal: Provide students with information, resources and skills needed to take greater control of their mental health and wellbeing.

Actions Timeframe Responsibility
3.1 Promote Student Wellbeing services at each campus throughout the semester  Ongoing

Manager, Counselling Services

Manager, AccessAbility Services
3.2 Promote online health and wellbeing resources on student communication channels Ongoing Student Health Coordinator
3.3 Broaden the online resources offered across a range of mental health and wellbeing issues December 2019 Student Health Coordinator
3.4 Support student-led projects and mental health and wellbeing resource development  Ongoing Student Health Coordinator
3.5 Student Senate and Student Guild to represent the student voice in consideration of student health issues  December 2019

Student Senate

Student Guild
3.6 Regular mental health promotion awareness-raising campaigns Ongoing

Student Health Coordinator

Human Resources (HSW)
Action area 4: Develop students' mental health knowledge and skills

We support the physical, mental and social health of USC students with online self-help advice and guidance on a range of health issues, providing education and opportunities for students to lead health and wellbeing initiatives and supporting student projects, groups, and placements.

Goal: Develop and create opportunities to build mental health knowledge and skills so students are engaged and thriving in both their academic and personal pursuits.

Actions Timeframe Responsibility
4.1 Face to face training: wellbeing drop-ins, mental health awareness Ongoing Manager, Counselling Services
Human Resources (HSW)
4.2 Online modules: Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), Consent Matters, Thrive (alcohol intervention) Ongoing

School of NM&P (MHFA)

Manager, Counselling Services

Student Health Coordinator
4.3 Peer-led skills development: mental health and wellbeing training for student leaders and student groups Ongoing

Manager, Counselling Services

4.4 HDR students: mental health and wellbeing embedded into training; increased opportunities for social connection December 2019

HDR student Network

Manager, Counselling Services
4.5 Investigate opportunities to incorporate topics related to mental health, mental illness or mental health organisations into assessment items  December 2019

Student Health Coordinator

FYE Coordinator, C_SALT
Action area 5: Ensure access to effective services

Our Counselling, AccessAbility and a range of support services are available to all students. Ongoing evaluation of service delivery to respond to student health and wellbeing needs. We will maintain links with government and community health organisations to provide services, advice and information to USC students.

Goal: Create and maintain services that enhance mental health and wellbeing and support equitable access across campuses.

Actions Timeframe Responsibility
5.1 Promoting and ensuring access to student support services  Ongoing

Manager, Support for Learning

Manager, Counselling Services

Manager, AccessAbility Services
5.2 Providing individual and group support  Ongoing

Manager, Support for Learning

Manager, Counselling Services

Manager, AccessAbility Services
5.3 Conduct wellbeing forums/focus groups to inform data-driven service delivery that addresses the identified needs of students December 2019

Manager, Counselling Services

Manager, AccessAbility Services

5.4 Increasing engagement with external mental health and NDIS service providers  December 2019

Manager, Counselling Services

Manager, AccessAbility Services

USC Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Road Map

As the USC community recognises the importance of having an intentional focus on student mental health and wellbeing, we have set out a roadmap to guide the future direction of the action plan from 2019-2022. Annual evaluation of the Plan will enable the Working Group to develop further actions to achieve the broad aspirations of the road map.

  • 2019: Build a multi-campus network to implement action plan
  • 2020: Increased collaboration within and beyond USC to enhance student mental health and wellbeing
  • 2021: Student mental health and wellbeing considered in plans and initiatives across USC
  • 2022: Refer to measurable university-wide outcomes and benefits

Summary

The USC Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan provides a structure from which the current and future mental health and wellbeing initiatives can be planned and coordinated. The Plan provides a road map for progress over the next four years to refine existing initiatives and develop new ones to further enhance the mental health and wellbeing of USC students. Collaboration from staff and students at each campus on the five action areas of the Plan will support the health and wellbeing, and academic success, of USC students.

References

  1. Veness, B. (2013). The wicked side of university mental health.Report to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Sydney, Australia.
  2. Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health (2017). Under the radar. The mental health of Australian university students. Melbourne: Orygen. The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.
  3. Holt, M., & Powell, S. (2017). Healthy Universities: a guiding framework for universities to examine the distinctive health needs of its own student population. Perspectives in public health137(1), 53-58.
  4. Baik, C., Larcombe, W., Brooker, A., Wyn, J., Allen, L., Brett, M., Field, R., & James, R. (2016). A framework for promoting student mental wellbeing in universities. Enhancing Student Wellbeing Project.
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