Monash University response to Orygen’s Under the Radar report

Stair climb

Student Mental Health Champion Stuart McCowan passes on R U OK? Day 'character' Quentin to other students following the Menzies stair Climb to mark University Mental Health and Wellbeing Day.

Monash University today welcomed Orygen’s major report on the mental health of Australian university students and its acknowledgement of the University’s own commitment and leadership in this important area.

Psychiatrist and Monash Pro Vice Chancellor, Major Campuses and Student Engagement, Professor David Copolov, AO said that with at least one in four university students aged between 15 and 24 years old experiencing mental ill-health in any one year, investment in coordinated promotion, early intervention and treatment programs is essential – something Monash has recognised through its many student mental health programs:

“It is critical that a spotlight is shone on university student mental health – something that has too often been overlooked in the past, to the detriment of student wellbeing,” Professor Copolov said.

“We therefore welcome the findings of Orygen’s important report into university student mental health and in particular its recommendation that student mental health should be included in the higher education policy agenda in a manner that involves more sector leadership and greater coordination.”

Professor Copolov went on to say that at a university level, Monash already spearheads a number of key initiatives to improve the mental wellbeing of its student communities, including the peer-to -peer Mental Health Champions program, singled out in Orygen’s report:

“Yesterday more than a hundred students and staff climbed the steps of our 12 storey Robert Menzies building on the University’s Clayton campus to mark the Australian and New Zealand University Mental Health and Wellbeing Day,” Professor Copolov said.

“This event was initiated by our own student Mental Health Champions – a powerful peer to peer support program mentioned in Orygen’s report – and one of a large number of mental health and wellbeing programs we offer all of our students at Monash.  

Other Monash initiatives in the student mental health space include:

  • A world-leading program in mindfulness. Monash is the first University in the world to integrate mindfulness training as part of its core curriculum – proven to enhance mental health, resilience and academic performance. In 2016, mindfulness training was delivered to 5,221 students, with 2,212 of these students receiving mindfulness training as part of their core curriculum.
  • Free Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training workshops, designed to equip students (and staff) with resources to help those with mental health issues. Over 1,000 Monash students have used MHFA over the past couple of years, helping them with everything from identifying  signs and symptoms of mental health disorders to knowing where and when to get help.
  • Increased access to and more rapid response of free student counselling for identification and early intervention for students who are struggling with mental health issues - Changing Minds - an interactive online program designed specifically for students to provide strategies for self-care and raise awareness of common mental health issues.
  • Safe Talk: Suicide Prevention – a free workshop for those who want to prevent suicide and contribute to a safer community.
  • Understanding Mental Health –seminars to help students and staff learn about symptoms and warning signs of common mental health problems.
  • Online counselling and a wide range of online resources and literature on topics ranging from help for depression to access to mental health organisations.
  • Involvement in major mental health events such as the Australia-wide RU OK Day. In 2016, Monash students and staff organised 98 events across the University’s Victorian campuses to encourage more meaningful connections and reach out to those struggling with mental health issues.

Read Orygen's Under the Radar report.