Mental health and wellbeing is supported when individuals within a community have the information and abilities needed to identify options and make decisions and choices conducive to good health.
As identified in the Ottawa charter, health promotion works through empowering affected communities to take ownership and exercise agency in setting priorities, making decisions, and planning and implementing strategies to achieve better health (WHO 1986). For universities committed to better supporting student mental health, this means actively building the capacity of, and creating opportunities for, students and student organisations to effectively initiate, develop, contribute to and sustain activity and decision-making related to student life in general and student mental health and wellbeing in particular.
Resources, programs and activities to strengthen awareness of mental health among all members of the university community will help to support student mental wellbeing.
Core activities (to undertake in the first year):
- Running regular campaigns to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing and redress stigma associated with mental health difficulties
- Developing or reviewing online and print resources that promote mental health literacy among students and staff
- Facilitating student involvement in activities and programs to raise students’ awareness of mental health issues and the academic benefits of mental wellbeing
Additional activities may include:
- Involving students in developing and delivering wellbeing activities at key points during the academic calendar such as orientation, interim assessment and exams
- Organising, funding and promoting mental health training for student leaders involved in peer support programs
- Involving students in data collection and evaluation of wellbeing programs and activities
Possible indicators of progress for institutional self-monitoring:
- Number of, and student participation in, activities and campaigns related to mental health and wellbeing
- Number of, and participation in, student-led activities related to university life in general, as well as student mental wellbeing
- Proportion of faculty/department committees with student participation and representation
- Number of, and participation in, mental health training programs for student leaders
- Proportion of staff participating in professional development programs related to student mental health and wellbeing