The mental health of Australia’s university students has gone under the radar for far too long.
In 2017, an Orygen report found that at least 25% of young university students experienced mental ill-health in any one year.
The report – Under the radar: the mental health of Australian university students – also found that current student counselling and disability services were struggling to meet the escalating volume, complexity and severity of mental ill-health presentations.
Orygen called for national leadership on the issue, including the development of a national framework, and in late 2018 the Australian Government responded with funding for Orygen to develop an Australian University Mental Health Framework to protect students’ mental health.
The Australian University Mental Health Framework will provide guidelines and standards for universities to support the creation of learning environments that are conducive to good mental health and wellbeing.
Orygen believes the implementation of such a framework will result in:
- improved care – access to better interventions, treatments and service systems;
- better identification, integration and coordination of support services;
- co-creation of learning environments conducive to good mental health;
- improved data collection, evaluation and adaptation across all stages of student mental health and ill-health;
- a reduced percentage of students leaving a course early, or considering early course exit, due to mental ill-health; and
- an increased number of students accessing interventions early in the onset of mental ill-health, providing downstream cost savings of untreated mental illness.
In order to develop the framework, Orygen will work with key stakeholders including the Australian Department of Health, the Australian Department of Education and Training, Universities Australia, headspace and batyr.
Orygen has established an advisory group of experts – including university stakeholders, current students and mental health experts – who will help to establish the overall structure of the framework and review the proposed content.
Expert working groups will be formed to contribute to the evidence-base for interventions in particular areas (such as student services) and at-risk populations (including international students).
Orygen plans to launch the Australian University Mental Health Framework by the end of 2020.
To get involved or find out more, please contact UniMHFramework@orygen.org.au