Monash Thrive: Safeguarding mental health in our community of students during the COVID-19 pandemic

Monash Thrive is an initiative led by the Turner Institute, in collaboration with Monash Community Campus Division, Monash Residential Services, Monash Sport, eSolutions, BehaviourWorks, the Chief Medical Officer, Monash Student and Graduate Associations and student groups around Monash. Monash Thrive is perfectly positioned to respond rapidly to the psychological challenges students now face as they remain in an unprecedented state of uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Student sitting on bed looking lonely

“It is vital that all our students at Monash have access to resources and digital tools that can promote and sustain mental health at this time of uncertainty and stress. Thrive has been co-created with both students and experts in mental health from across the university. We believe it will be a game-changer in bringing novel mental health tools that can be personalised to each student,” said Professor Kim Cornish.

“Our students are in lockdown with minimal capacity to socially connect with peers or teachers where on-line teaching has replaced face to face engagement, and there are minimal opportunities for recreation and group activities. Normal life as a student has disappeared. These changes have placed our students at a heightened risk of a wide range of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, insomnia, stress and increased risk of substance abuse and behavioural addictions.”

Monash Thrive will act quickly to identify the prevalence of mental health problems in students across all its Australian campuses. It will do so by conducting a large scale, longitudinal digital mental health survey to all students beginning in April. Data will be analysed by a team of experts in epidemiology, mathematical modelling and mental health to provide us with deep insight into student concerns and mental wellbeing. Findings will dictate the work of a COVID-19 student mental health taskforce responsible for designing the first critical interventions to be deployed using the newly developed Monash Thrive App and Thrive Moodle ePortal.

Our main Thrive priority is the COVID-19 Thrive@Home Survey. Monash Thrive will launch a comprehensive student-wide Qualtrics survey in April. Psychological measures will tap into the impact of the pandemic, loneliness, social connectedness, social anxiety, depression, stress, access to health resources, sleep, nutrition and exercise. Data collected from this survey will be used to develop reports on student wellbeing during times of crisis and to inform digital interventions deployed through the Thrive App and our Moodle ePortal. This survey will be longitudinal in design giving us greater insight into the changing status of student mental health as the COVID-19 global crisis progresses into recovery. With this knowledge the Thrive team can adapt interventions and resources accordingly.