Mental Health & Wellbeing

According to a study by the National Union of Students, students surveyed said the following mental health issues impacted their study in the past 12 months:

  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide: 4 per cent
  • Feeling stressed: 2 per cent
  • Lack of energy or motivation: 1 per cent
  • Feeling anxious: 0 per cent
  • Low mood: 8 per cent
  • Feelings of hopelessness/worthlessness: 2 per cent
  • Trouble sleeping: 6 per cent
  • Panic:7 per cent

According to Orygen – the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health,

…the very nature of the university experience could increase the risk of psychological distress among this population. For some students this experience includes: financial stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, balancing work and study responsibilities, living away from family and pressure to excel in the context of an increasingly competitive job market. It’s a combination of risk factors which can result in, or exacerbate, mental ill-health among university students.

(Orygen, 2017, p6)

Mental health disorders and distress are also significantly more prevalent among graduate research students than among undergraduates (Levecque et al. 2017)

Covid-19 has also had a strong impact on the wellbeing of students, exacerbating feelings of anxiety, fear, isolation and loneliness.

This is not okay.

At the TUU we believe more needs to be done to combat the mental health issues students are experiencing. This challenge goes beyond the lecture theatre and into the wider community.

To help address this issue, we launched a special Vent Tent based on Mental Health issues in June. We took the results to the Vice Chancellor to campaign on your behalf.

You can see the results here.

We also launched a range of programs and activities for students designed to alleviate the pressures of Covid-19:

  • We directed SSAF towards a new, easily accessible emergency funding scheme called Helping Hands.
  • We created a series of online activities like Live in the Loungeroom sessions and virtual events in partnership with out Clubs and Societies (online Salsa classes, for example).
  • As part of our student development program, Student Reps and some TUU staff became accredited in Mental Health First Aid. We plan to continue to offer this as a student development opportunity.
  • We worked hard to make sure you all knew what was going on as classes were moved online, and lobbied the university to communicate better and faster with students.
  • We also met with UTAS on a number of occasions to push for things like longer breaks, submission extensions and ungraded passes.

The mental health and wellbeing of students is something the TUU takes very seriously, and that is why it is one of our key issues for the 2020 university year.

 

References:

Headspace, 2017, Majority of Aussie students stressed, depressed, article, viewed 17 August 2020, < https://headspace.org.au/blog/majority-of-aussie-students-stressed-depressed/>

Levecque, K, Anseel, F, De Beuchlaer, A, Van der Heyden, J, and Gisle, L 2017. ‘Work organization and mental health problems in PhD students’, Research Policy 46(4): 868-879.

Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health. Under the radar. The mental health of Australian university students. Melbourne: Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, 2017.