University Mental Health Day – message from the Vice-Chancellor

Yesterday was Australia and New Zealand University Mental Health Day, which aims to raise awareness about the mental health and wellbeing of those who study and work in higher education settings, and open up conversations about the relationship between mental and physical wellbeing.

This year’s theme is “CommUNIty”, reflecting the importance of having a sense of connectedness for positive mental health. At La Trobe University we value community, and we aim to foster a sense of belonging amongst students and staff. We recognise that social connection boosts resilience and aids recovery from physical or mental illness, and is fundamental to our mental health.

Statistics show that around 45 per cent of people aged between 16 and 85 will experience a mental disorder at some time in their lives, and at least 26 per cent of young people have had an episode of mental illness by the time they reach 25 years old.

This data tells us that many members of our community currently have, or will experience, a mental illness at some stage in their life. Through living the La Trobe cultural qualities of Connection and Care, we can all make a difference by connecting and supporting each other, especially when we notice someone who might be struggling or feeling isolated.

We all have a part to play in cultivating a positive mental health community at La Trobe, and I encourage you to consider how you can personally contribute to promoting a sense of belonging and community.

I would also like to remind you about support programs for students, including our Counselling service which is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, with after-hours support available for emergencies.

You can also register with Equity and Diversity for assistance with adjustments to study that are due to mental health issues. External support and resources are available through services including Beyond Blue and Headspace, and you can also contact Lifeline for access to 24-hour support and suicide prevention services.

Professor John Dewar