Action Area 4: Develop students’ mental health knowledge and self-regulatory skills

All students should have opportunities to develop mental health knowledge and skills within their academic course of study.

While many students thrive at university, it is now known that a significant number experience mental health difficulties and struggle to manage the demands and pressures of their academic studies. These students need timely, personalised opportunities to develop relevant skills, such as time and task management, reflection and self-understanding, self-regulation, goal setting and help-seeking.

There is a growing of body research showing the benefits of integrating mental health skills education in the university curricula, in particular in helping students develop self-management skills, mindfulness and resilience (see Veness, 2016). These skills have also been linked to employability, and universities are increasingly including self-management and other skills related to wellbeing as learning outcomes in graduate attribute statements.

Core activities (to undertake in the first year):

  1. Providing opportunities within the formal curriculum for students to learn health promoting knowledge and skills – such as confidence, resilience, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, mindfulness, time and task management.
  2. Developing curricula and co-curricular offerings that build students’ self-knowledge (e.g. values and character strengths) so they are better able to make decisions and identify career pathways consistent with their values, interests and strengths
  3. Developing print and online information and resources that build students’ knowledge and skills for mental wellbeing (e.g. mental health essentials, stress-management, mindfulness, self-compassion, autonomous motivation, managing emotions)

Additional activities may include:

  • Providing online tools and apps, customised to the local student experience and environment, that promote healthy behaviours, relationships, self-talk and goal-setting
  • Collaborative development with students of programs, information and activities that build resilience and students’ capacities to hear and act on constructive feedback
  • Developing strategies for students with histories of abuse, discrimination or trauma to engage with potentially distressing curriculum materials.

Possible indicators of progress for institutional self-monitoring:

  • Proportion of subjects/units embedding health promoting knowledge and skills for mental wellbeing (e.g. building resilience, embedding mental health literacy, ,autonomy, self-management, employability competencies)
  • Number of, and participation, in co-curricular programs/courses related to developing personal knowledge and self-regulatory skills (e.g. self-management, resilience, employability competencies)
  • Availability (and take up) of online information and resources that build students’ knowledge and skills for mental wellbeing
  • Availability (and take up) of customised online tools and apps promoting mental wellbeing (e.g. healthy behaviours, relationships, and goal-setting)
  • Availability and take-up pf programs and information that build reliance and self-management.
  • Availability of explicit guidelines/resources for academic staff teaching potentially distressing curriculum materials.