In Australia, one in four students will experience mental ill-health during their time at university.
Within UNSW over 20,000 mental health-related appointments are made annually.
In 2018, UNSW conducted a deep dive review of Student Mental Health and Wellbeing, with the guidance and support of external consultants from PwC. This involved extensive consultation with students, staff, other universities, and external service providers. Students were ingrained into the Review and Strategy teams to ensure their voices were heard from the beginning.
This Inaugural Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy has been designed to provide a high-level framework for addressing Student Mental Health & Wellbeing within UNSW. We acknowledge that there is still much work to be done and that life as a student is challenging, and the tasks of balancing study, work, and other activities put a strain on our students. We remain committed to investing in the well-being of our students and engaging in collaborative and innovative research projects that centre on the student's voice.
Download the Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy
Our Commitment to Mental Health Learn about the eight key components to UNSW's approach and continued commitment to Students Mental Health and Wellbeing.
"A UNSW community that values and promotes student mental health and wellbeing, allowing all students to flourish and have a positive student experience."
- Whole-of-university approach will be undertaken to promote student mental health and wellbeing in recognition of its important contribution to the student experience.
- Whole-of-person approach will be utilised to understand and promote, student mental health and wellbeing, in recognition of the multiple factors that contribute to social and emotional wellbeing.
- Equity, diversity and inclusion is a crucial lens in the design and delivery of student mental health and wellbeing initiatives, ensuring opportunities for all students.
- Meaningful collaboration and co-design will underpin all initiatives, valuing the experience and expertise of students and staff alike.
- Empirical evidence and meaningful data will drive decision-making and resource allocation in relation to student mental health and wellbeing.
- Safe and accepting community culture will be cultivated and promoted so students feel able to seek help without fear of stigma or negative consequences.
- Continuous evaluation and improvement will ensure that UNSW's service delivery is world-class and adapts to changes in students needs.
- Provide a physical environment through the delivery of student spaces such as the wellness precinct to engage students in independent wellbeing activities.
Strategic Priorities, Themes and Enablers
Learn more about each of the the strategic priorities, their vision, objectives, initiatives and measures of progress by navigating the tabs below.
Strategic Priority A: Prepare Prepare has three themes: Policy, decision making and planning.
Find out more about each of these themes and how you can get involved.
Theme A1: Policy
UNSW will actively include mental health and wellbeing consideration in its policies and procedures, especially those directly affecting students. This will require processes and procedures that are mindful of the potential impacts on students, and actively promote positive mental health and wellbeing. This consideration will extend to curriculum and assessment design and implementation, with recognition of the significant impact this can have on student mental health and wellbeing.
Theme A2: Decision-Making
The implications for student mental health and wellbeing will be given due consideration in decision-making processes at all levels of the university. UNSW will recognise that decisions, such as the decision of a building, can have a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of students. This will require a university-wide understanding of student mental health and wellbeing, and the thoughtful development and application of decision-making criteria that promote positive mental health and wellbeing.
Theme A3: Planning
Throughout UNSW, all planning activities (new initiatives, buildings, or processes/structures etc) are undertaken in consideration of their impact on student mental health and wellbeing. This will require embedding a clear process within policies and procedures, and assessment of best-practice to provide frameworks and guidance on implementation. Planning will involve co-design with staff, students, and mental health subject matter experts regarding evidence-based practice.
Want to get involved in making a change in UNSW community?
Strategic Priority B: Prevent Prevent has three themes: Culture, Mental Health Literacy and Early Intervention.
Find out more about each of these themes and how you can get involved.
Theme B1: Culture
The culture at UNSW is one which
(a) promotes positive mental health and wellbeing
(b) recognises and responds compassionately to students who are struggling with mental ill-health
There is an open discussion about mental ill-health, the tools that can help prevent it, and the means to respond effectively to it. Students are able to seek help without fear of stigma or reprisal and can be comforted by UNSW's supportive community. In terms of the wellbeing dimension, there are promotions of curricular and extracurricular strategies to create learning environments that support students to succeed academically, including opportunities to improve student self-management capability.
Theme B2: Mental Health Literacy
All students at UNSW are equipped with evidence-based resources and information to
(a) recognise and seek help for, mental health
(b) recognise and seek help, when they are low on the wellbeing dimension.
They are educated in how to access resources relating to mental health and wellbeing, whether for themselves or others. Additionally, staff, decision-makers, and gatekeepers are literate regarding student mental health and wellbeing and can understand the impact of their actions. Student-facing staff are well versed in available resources, services and appropriate referrals, and feel supported in their capacity to assist students. Training and educational programs will be evidence-based, with a focus on practical skills underpinned by the UNSW stepped care model.
Theme B3: Early Intervention
UNSW is able to intervene early when students are at risk of mental ill-health and encourages early student self-presentation. UNSW uses innovative tools and systems to identify and reach at-risk students as early as possible. This results in better outcomes for students and a reduced burden on university resources.
Want to build your mental health literacy and create change in UNSW culture?
Strategic Priority C: Respond Respond has three themes: Coordinated, Accessible and effective. Find out more about each of these themes and how you can get involved.
Theme C1: Coordinated
UNSW's response to student mental ill-health and low wellbeing is coordinated and collaborative, both across the university and in partnership with external service providers. A range of internal stakeholders including Arc Student Life @UNSW can be coordinated and mobilised for effective response to, and case management of, students with mental ill-health and low wellbeing. In addition, a strong partnership and referral network with external service-providers will enable students to have timely access to appropriate care.
Theme C2: Accessible
Any stududent, regardless of their background and financial circumstances, can access mental health and wellbeing services and resources when needed, in a timely and feasible manner. The principles of equity, diversity and inclusion will be fundamental to UNSW's service-offering. In addition, UNSW will aim to specifically improve access for the most vulnerable groups of students, recognising the unique challenges they may face. UNSW will take a multi-modal approach, understanding that individuals have different preferences with mental health and wellbeing services.
Theme C3: Effective
The UNSW services and referrals provided to students will be evidence-based and effective methods of promoting positive mental health and wellbeing, and addressing mental ill-health and low wellbeing. Students will receive timely, effective, evidence-based care. Empirical evidence will form the basis of services provided, and partnerships will be created with the best providers in the field. Responses will be appropriate for the specific needs of the student, and UNSW will collect and use data to continuously evaluate how to improve its offering.
Learn more about the health and wellbeing services available at UNSW
UNSW Suicide Prevention Strategy Suicide prevention is a complex and vital element of student mental health and wellbeing. Learn more about the emergency support available and the strategic themes tailored towards suicide prevention.
Suicide prevention is a particularly complex and crucial element of student mental health and wellbeing. Therefore, an additional suicide prevention strategy has been created as an appendix to the UNSW Student Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy, aligned to the same strategic priorities of Prepare, Prevent and Respond.
This Strategy represents the university-wide commitment to understanding student suicide, mitigating risk, appropriate intervention, and providing support to those in need.
Suicide Prevention Themes
While the strategic priorities align with those of the UNSW Student Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy, the strategic themes are tailored towards suicide prevention. These themes elaborate on those within the main strategy, targeted specifically towards suicide prevention and should be integrated into the wider approach.
To learn more about each Strategic Priority and their objectives, initiatives and measures of progress towards suicide prevention you can download the strategy above.
Do you need emergency support?
Should you or someone you know be expressing suicidality or you need emergency support below are some resources available so you can speak to a healthcare professional.
Acknowledgement of Country
We would like to acknowledge the Bedegal, Gadigal, and Nguannawal people who have until white colonisation thrived in their respective lands that each UNSW campus is located (Kensington, Sydney and Canberra), and have deep understandings of the importance of health and wellbeing and its connection to all aspects of life. In recognition of this rich knowledge and our location on their ancestral land, we pay our respects to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders past, present, and future, and commit to working collaboratively with the Bedegal, Gadigal, and Nguannawal nations to achieve greater health and wellbeing outcomes at UNSW and in their respective communities. We are grateful for your presence, wisdom and traditions which have embedded positive health and wellbeing principles for thousands of years and your understanding of the innate connection between place, culture, mind and body.