Student Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2021-2023 - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Student Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2021-2023

USC acknowledges its contribution to supporting the health and wellbeing of its diverse student population. In 2011, USC developed the Healthy USC initiative to implement a broad range of activities to support the health and wellbeing of our students. Our  Strategic Plan 2019-2022 includes a commitment to ‘protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of all our people’. As part of this commitment, the USC Student Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2021-2023 seeks to build healthy life and learning environments for students, with a focus on mental health and wellbeing.

Our principles

The Student Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2021-23 has been co-designed with students to develop six guiding principles. The principles are informed by the aims of the Australian University Mental Health Framework to protect, support and promote student mental health and wellbeing:

Protect

Protection aims to foster an anti-bullying culture, address risks of suicide/harm while increasing protective factors, and to combat stigma.

Support

Support includes providing and promoting access to a range of internal and external health and wellbeing support and resources that are responsive, flexible and intentional.

Promote

Promotion is the early intervention, promotion and capacity building of positive mental health.

In order to achieve this, we will work to:

  • Facilitate a learning environment that builds resilience and promotes social connection
  • Develop mental health literacy
  • Promote a supportive trauma-informed community and culture that values positive mental health
  • Deliver a high-quality internal wellbeing support service for students
  • Develop collaborative partnerships between students, community and wellbeing support services
Healthy USC Diagram

Our principles in action

Foster an anti-bullying culture, address risks of self-harm, increase protective factors and combat stigma
  • Provide learning, teaching and curriculum experiences that promote health and wellbeing
  • Facilitate help-seeking behaviours by promoting student health and wellbeing resources
  • Provide appropriate postvention guidelines and response plan for students affected by a suicide/attempted suicide,  or by other critical incidents impacting individuals or our broader learning community.
  • Establish a dedicated ‘Suicide Response Team’ (SRT) based on UA guidelines (2020) whose remit is solely to manage the university’s response to a death by suicide.

Promote a sense of safety, belonging, and identity with USC within connected, resilient and trauma-informed communities
  • Student support services embedded and promoted within programs and courses.
  • Mental health and wellbeing resources included in curriculum resources.
  • Increase student awareness of mental health support services and resources using multi-modal student communication channels and student-led health and wellbeing initiatives.
  • Increase student awareness of opportunities for on-campus and online social connections, including with Student Guild, sporting clubs and societies, to promote a sense of belonging and connectedness with other students.

Provide and promote access to a range of health and wellbeing supports and resources that are responsive, flexible and intentional
  • Promote, on-campus and online, student support services for equity groups and ‘at risk’ student cohorts (e.g. HDR, First Nations, International, LGBTIQ+, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and students with a disability).
  • Delivery of triage and risk management training and development of protocols.
  • Make use of existing university and learning analytics data for early identification of students at psychological risk, to alert relevant staff, and trigger personalised support and targeted information about resources
  • Identify, partner and maintain referral pathways for students who require longer-term support for their health and wellbeing.

Enable flexible systems, processes and practices for students to access the right support at the right time
  • Conduct cross unit evaluation of student support teams using the ‘Trauma-Informed Care and Practice Organisational Toolkit- A Quality Improvement Organisational Change Resource’.
  • Ensure impacts on student mental wellbeing are considered in the design and implementation of university systems, processes, and policies.
  • Partner with the Student Senate to embed a focus on health and wellbeing in the Student Governance Framework.
  • Health and wellbeing training included in the Student Leadership Program
  • Deliver mental health promotion activities to support de-stigmatisation and assist students to become emotionally resilient, cope with negative experiences and engage in their studies.
  • Current campaigns should be consolidated, expanded and complemented by promotional activities that target specific population groups.
Intentional early intervention, promotion and capacity building of positive mental health
  • Take an evidence-based approach to deliver proactive and preventive responses to health and wellbeing.
  • Develop Mental Health Awareness training for staff and students to be delivered via ELM.
  • Include webinars, videos or short-form information packs.
  • Provide clear, easily accessible guidelines for staff and students about how to respond to, support and refer students with mental health conditions.
  • Develop, maintain and enhance online health and wellbeing resources for students, including self-assessment tools linked to resources, practical advice and referral for professional assistance.
  • Implement and promote the Health and Wellbeing toolkit to help staff to support students with mental health conditions.
Support healthy people, places, policies and practices
  • Partner with the Student Senate to establish a Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Reference Group, reporting through to the Executive Group, to advise on the implementation and evaluation processes of this Strategy.
  • Monitor specialist support services (Wellbeing, AccessAbility, Success, Learning Advisers, Careers) reviewed annually to ensure adequate staff v student ratios to meet demand.
  • Map student wellbeing activities in program outlines, when program reviews are due.
  • Review and update policy, procedures and practices to consider health and wellbeing impacts on students.
  • Undertake research and evaluation to better understand the efficacy of interventions and programs designed to improve students’ mental health and physical safety.
Summary

The USC Student Health and Wellbeing Strategy has been developed as a high-level plan on how USC intends to support the health and wellbeing of its students. The strategy takes a broad, holistic view of health and wellbeing to address the physical, mental and social health needs of USC students.

Successful implementation of the strategy will require leadership and commitment across the university. Evaluation of the actions outlined in the strategy will monitor progress and assess the impact on student health and wellbeing.