One in three university students meet the criteria for a mental illness such as depression, anxiety or panic disorder. One in six have considered suicide in the past 12 months. The numbers speak for themselves.
Studying at university or TAFE is a chance to learn new things, meet new people, and enjoy a wide range of new experiences. However, this time can also be stressful, and many students have difficulty coping. Sadly, many do not reach out for help.
Image credit: Small Things by Mel Tregonning – Allen & Unwin
This illustration is by Curtin graduate and talented artist Mel Tregonning who sadly passed away by suicide in 2014. Mel was a graphic designer, illustrator and creator of Small Things, which tells the story of a boy who feels alone with his worries, but who learns that help is always close by.
COVID-19 is an added stress factor to the already concerning number of students at risk of suicide, suicidal behaviour and self-injury. Curtin University wants to change this.
We want to normalise help-seeking, equip students with good coping strategies and reduce the stigma attached to poor mental health. We want to encourage all students to avail themselves of support when they struggle.
As part of a Harvard-led research consortium, Curtin Professor Penelope Hasking and her team are refining a predictive tool that identifies students at future risk of suicide. Those identified are provided with tailored interventions, safety plans and professional support. A recent trial of Curtin students identified 86 out of 1,002 were at-risk. They were linked to urgent assistance.
Penelope’s team is continuously broadening referral options to connect students to the right mental health services and self-help resources. They are developing Managing Emotion, an online program to help all students look after their mental health.
This resource requires financial assistance from our friends and graduates.
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The Managing Emotion online resource assists all university students with ways in which we experience emotion, how we think and act, and how we can help regulate how we feel, particularly during stressful times.
Managing study, stress and mental health at university
This short course is a German-Australian collaboration developed in response to the growing need to provide students with the knowledge, skills and understanding to recognise, identify and respond to mental health challenges in themselves and others.
Curtin believes that every student should have the opportunity to grow and reach their full potential. The mental health of our young people in tertiary education will help shape the future of Western Australia.
The algorithm is embedded within the Curtin Wellbeing Survey, and allows those identified as at-risk to be connected to existing mental health services and provided with tailored interventions, including safety plans and professional support.
Managing Emotion is a tailored online resource which helps students understand more about their emotions, learn how to take action, develop good coping strategies, and know where they can turn for help when they are struggling. It is available to all students and forms part of the Curtin Wellbeing Survey.
More than half of students (54.3%) gave the modules a rating of 8-9 out of 10. One student said:
“Having spent time practising mindfulness, Managing Emotion helped me revisit ideas and practices. That is the thing about healthy coping skills – you have to learn them in different forms for them to properly take… It made a huge difference.”
The research and Curtin Wellbeing Survey began in 2016 with the aim of gaining a snapshot of some of the challenges that university life can create. By better understanding these potential difficulties, we are able to improve the lives of university students through better prevention and intervention programs and practices.
In 2020, 1,002 Curtin students who entered their first year of university completed the Curtin Wellbeing Survey. Of these, 86 students were flagged to be at elevated risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour.
Remarkably, 75% of the identified students would have fallen through the cracks and not been identified through traditional screening methods.
We want our Health Sciences community to have the opportunity to come together and show they care about the mental health of university students. A whole community approach is needed to normalise help-seeking and reduce the stigma around poor mental health.
We hope to raise $10,000 to improve the Managing Emotion resource.
Any donation that is meaningful to you is meaningful to us.
For a confidential conversation with a member of our team, please contact Faculty Advancement Manager Fabienne Vonarburg on 0423 415 047.