Improving mental health literacy in the university setting: the role of mental health first aid

Kelly, Jenny, Speare, Rick, and Higgs, Lesley (2011) Improving mental health literacy in the university setting: the role of mental health first aid. In: Presentations from 3rd Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium. From: 3rd Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium: impacts and outcomes, 14-16 November 2011, Ballarat, VIC, Australia. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The impact of mental illness within the Australian population has become increasingly apparent. The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (SMHWB) conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 1 in 5 Australians aged between 16 and 85 years experienced one or more of the common mental disorders in the 12 months prior to the survey (AIHW 2010). More than one quarter (26%) of people aged between 16-24 years experienced a mental health disorder in the preceding 12 months. Almost two thirds of people (65%) identified in the survey as having symptoms of a mental health disorder in the past 12 months did not use a service for their mental health problems.

In line with the general population, the number of university students with a serious mental illness has increased significantly. A systematic review of students with mental health problems identified the major problems experienced by university students include anxiety, depression and psychotic disorders. The level of distress experienced by these students was noted to be very high with 83% of students moderately or severely distressed (Storrie, Ahern & Tuckett 2010).

Failure to progress satisfactorily may be an indicator of developing, or established, mental health problems. A US study revealed that emotional health had a major effect on the student's academic ability and intent to withdraw from University (Pritchard & Wilson 2003). Academic and administrative support staff interact frequently with students, and are well placed to assist students with emerging mental health issues by providing them with appropriate information and referral options, yet many staff, lack knowledge of common mental health issues. In this presentation, we report on the findings from our study that aimed to improve the mental health literacy of academic and administrative staff in an attempt to enable them to identify and respond more effectively to students experiencing an emerging mental health problem. Our results demonstrate how the introduction of the 12 hour Mental Health First Aid course builds capacity within the staff and results in better outcomes for staff as well as students.

Item ID: 19470
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Keywords: mental health, literacy, university students
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2012 04:15
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920599 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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