Australian universities are falling behind their US and British counterparts and failing students in the way mental health concerns are addressed at an institutional level, a new report into student mental health has found.
The report by youth mental health advocate and Monash University Churchill Fellow Ben Veness, The Wicked Problem of University Student Mental Health, makes 49 recommendations on the way universities could improve the “mental health status quo”.
Dr Veness said mental health support systems were vital to universities particularly as three quarters of mental disorders emerge before the age of 25.
“In Australia, young people’s mental health concerns are their biggest health problem but support is really difficult to access, particularly for young men,” Dr Veness said. “There is a lot of evidence about early intervention in mental health concerns leading to more positive long-term outcomes.”
The report comes just weeks after the release of the Department of Education’s annual Student Experience Survey, which in 2015 found 42 per cent of students considering dropping out of university did so because of issues with “health or stress”.
Dr Veness said it was time for universities to act on research that showed clear trends.
“No survey without services is if you’re going to ask people to spend time answering questions and you identify problems because of that, then you’re obligated to do something about that,” he said. “I don’t think we need to have more surveys; I think we need to have more service.”
The report recommended universities begin with adopting a “tone from the top” institutional culture around mental health.
“The chancellors and vice-chancellors of universities need to explicitly recognise that university student mental health is important. They do need to pay attention to it and recognise that it’s implicitly linked to their achievement of teaching and learning outcomes,”
Dr Veness said. “There needs to be clearly designated responsibilities for student mental health issues with a single person.” To read more CLICK HERE.
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