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Monday, January 25, 2021

UC backs Australian mental health initiative

An mental health initiative aimed at helping Australian universities respond to death by suicide launched this week, and it has the University of Canberra’s full support.

Launched in collaboration with Universities Australia and headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation, the program provides a tool kit for university communities to remain mentally healthy.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Academic Geoff Crisp said the university was pleased to be involved in the positive initiative.

“We are so pleased the government is putting more money into mental health and the wide range of activities around metal health, particularly in COVID-19,” he said.

“This particular initiative is about responding to suicide for young people. We know they are at a high risk.”

The toolkit will provide guidance on how to keep the university community safe and supported in the event of a death by suicide.

National institution for reducing mental ill-health and suicide, Everymind, will also collaborate on the initiative and offer online training to senior leaders in the sector.

“What UC will do is use this document provided in addition to our wellbeing programs, as well as our medical and counselling services on campus,” Professor Crisp said.

“We will use this benchmark on what we currently do and look if there are any gaps in what we are currently doing and do something about them.”

Everymind acting director, Carmel Loughland, said suicide prevention started with these initiatives and an open conversation. 

“Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention and through open and honest conversations, university communities can contribute to raising awareness, breaking down stigma and myths associated with suicide,” she said. 

“Prevention starts with using safe, non-stigmatising language and having a supportive plan in place.

“This training empowers university communities to navigate instances of suicide, while minimising potential impact to vulnerable community members and promoting and providing help-seeking pathways.”

Training with seniors within the education sector is set to start in October and November 2020.

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Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts