UON celebrates University Mental Health Day

2014 marks the inaugural Australia and New Zealand University Mental Health Day – Sarah Webb finds out how UON will be participating.

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As part of the first Australia and New Zealand University Mental Health and Wellbeing Day on Wednesday 8 October, the University of Newcastle will be one of 31 universities across Australia and New Zealand celebrating the event.

What started out as a collaboration between UON’s School of Nursing, Staff Safety Wellbeing and Student Health and Wellbeing last year has since received recognition from the Directors of Student Support Services Association across Australia and New Zealand. University Mental Health Day now brings together staff and students in the higher education sector around the country and across the Tasman, to raise awareness of mental health.

The concept was first developed in 2012 by the University Mental Health Advisers Network in the UK and is now coordinated by the student mental health charity Student Minds.

Evidence from the 2007 ABS National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing suggests one in five adults will suffer a mental health disorder in any 12 months, with a higher prevalence of 26 per cent among 16-24 year olds and 25 per cent among 25-34 year olds. University students are particularly susceptible to certain mental health disorders, with contributing factors including moving out of home, academic pressures and sleeping disorders.

The event recognises that mental health disorders are common and can result in a significant negative impact on an individual’s lifestyle and academic performance. By creating an educational and motivational environment through expos and activities on the day, the event will result in significant benefits for those students and staff alike.

Event organiser, Paula Convery, said the event has been a collaborative effort with input from many services and faculties across campuses to plan the activities for the day.

“People can expect a range of activities,” Paula said.

“At Callaghan we’re having a Welcome to Country and launch with Wollotuka staff and the Dean Vice-Chancellor, Andrew Parfitt, at 9:30am.”

Following this, there will be a walk along the Birabahn trail, and an expo from 11:30am to 2:00pm in the Brennan Room with stalls and activities including Pilates, a fitness circuit, and Tai Chi demonstrations, with sushi available for lunch. Students can also expect to see a range of stalls including Beyond Blue and Headspace.

“This event hopes to raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing issues for young people experiencing mental health issues, including providing information on mental health issues and the resources available,” Paula said.

The 2008 Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project by the New Economics Foundation in the UK hopes to develop a long term vision for maximising mental capital and wellbeing for the benefits of society and the individual. They found the following five ways to wellbeing to reinforce positive thinking within the individual.

Connect – with the people around you, family or friends – the cornerstones of your life at home, work, and the local community.

Be active – go for a walk or run! Step outside your comfort zone and discover an activity that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

Give – do something nice for a friend or complete stranger. Thank someone, smile more, volunteer, look out as well as in: see yourself linked to the wider community.

Take notice – be curious about and aware of the world around you.

Keep learning – explore new ideas and sharpen your skills!

By introducing some of these simple points into your daily life you will begin to see the benefits made to your mental health and wellbeing. Come along and revel in the UON sense of community in the ultimate chance to connect, give back, be active, take notice and keep learning – all to support mental health in the higher education sector.

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