Students urged to open up about mental health - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Students urged to open up about mental health

5 May 2016

A group of University of the Sunshine Coast students is working to empower fellow students to speak openly about their mental health.

Active Minds is a student-run, not-for-profit organisation that aims to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues on university and college campuses.

Second-year Psychology Honours student Tayla Dokonal of Currimundi said USC Active Minds at the Sippy Downs campus was a point of contact for students who might be struggling with problems including stress, anxiety and depression.

“We don’t want anyone to suffer in silence because of mental health issues, but this can be quite a common experience,” said Tayla, an ambassador for the group.

“I joined the committee because, as a Psychology student, I have a passion for mental health and wellbeing and I wanted to be part of a group that makes a difference on campus.

“I want to help spread awareness, create change, and assist in letting students know they are not alone and that it is completely okay to talk about what they are feeling and to seek help.”

The group has more than 300 members and hopes to expand to other USC campuses, such as Fraser Coast and Gympie.

“Active Minds is successful because it is based on students helping other students to talk about and deal with mental illness in an environment that is safe and non-judgmental,” said Tayla.

“Finding someone you can connect with and trust, like a fellow student, can make a big difference to how you choose to deal with and experience mental health problems.”

Once a student makes contact with the group, they are helped to access available services such as counsellors, psychologists and support from USC’s Student Wellbeing.

USC Active Minds holds regular meetings for students and will also host a number of events during the year to generate awareness about mental health.

For details visit the USC Active Minds Facebook page or email

Tayla last year received a $32,000 Thompson Excellence Scholarships, provided through a donation to USC by Roy and Nola Thompson. This couple also recently donated a property to USC that has become the Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience – Thompson Institute at Birtinya.

— Clare McKay

Second-year Psychology student Tayla Dokonal promoting Active Minds on campus at USC

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