Men­tal health a cam­pus con­cern

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Jaime Shurmer

UNI­VER­SITY and Tafe stu­dents are stressed and anx­ious, with nearly 70 per cent de­scrib­ing their men­tal health as poor or fair in a new sur­vey.

Headspace and the Na­tional Union of Stu­dents ran one of the big­gest na­tional stu­dent sur­veys into men­tal health and re­leased pre­lim­i­nary find­ings on April 6.

More than 35 per cent re­ported thoughts of self-harm or sui­cide and 83.2 per cent felt stressed.

Curtin Stu­dent Guild ed­u­ca­tion vice-pres­i­dent Jor­dan Pig­gott said a large pro­por­tion of WA’s re­spon­dents to the sur­vey at­tended Curtin, but men­tal well­be­ing was an im­por­tant is­sue across ev­ery cam­pus na­tion­ally.

“There are sig­nif­i­cant is­sues with men­tal well­be­ing among the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion and with WA con­tribut­ing over 1000 re­sponses to this sur­vey, these re­sults should be of great con­cern to uni­ver­sity com­mu­ni­ties in the state,” he said.

Curtin Uni­ver­sity deputy vice-chan­cel­lor aca­demic Jill Downie said re­search showed higher lev­els of men­tal dis­tress

The uni­ver­sity then cre­ated a men­tal health strat­egy to of­fer greater sup­port and en­cour­age peo­ple to seek help.

The Bent­ley cam­pus has 30,000 mem­bers and the guild of­fers free case work­ers to peo­ple whose stud­ies are be­ing af­fected by per­sonal, fi­nan­cial or aca­demic is­sues.

But Mr Pig­gott said more could be done.

“The uni­ver­sity is in­creas­ing its foot­print with a vi­sion of be­com­ing its own city, but while this de­vel­op­ment is un­der­way stu­dents are still wait­ing too long to ac­cess ser­vice,” he said.

“At the same time, higher ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing is kicked around like a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball and fed­eral fund­ing ar­range­ments force public uni­ver­si­ties to op­er­ate like busi­nesses.”

South Met­ro­pol­i­tan Tafe de­clined to com­ment on the find­ings.

The full re­port is due out by the end of the fi­nan­cial year.

Headspace has 99 cen­tres na­tion­ally plus the on­line and over-the-phone coun­selling ser­vice, www.eheadspace.org.au or call 18000 650 890. Life­line can also be con­tacted if peo­ple are dis­tressed on 13 11 14.

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