Improving the mental health of young people in tertiary education settings

Klepac Pogrmilovic, Bojana ORCID: 0000-0002-9141-1862, Craike, Melinda ORCID: 0000-0002-7374-1286, Pascoe, Michaela ORCID: 0000-0002-3831-5660, Dash, Sarah ORCID: 0000-0002-7694-3027, Parker, Alexandra ORCID: 0000-0002-2398-6306 and Calder, Rosemary (2021) Improving the mental health of young people in tertiary education settings. Other. Mitchell Institute, Melbourne, Australia.


A POLICY EVIDENCE BRIEF. Young people (15-24 years) have the highest prevalence of mental health disorders or behavioural conditions of all age groups [1]. Seventy-five per cent of mental disorders emerge for the first time before the age of 24 years [2], which is the time when a large proportion of young Australians enrol in tertiary education [3]. Each year, over 200,000 university students (18-25 years old) will experience mental ill health [4]. Mental ill health is often an outcome of individuals’ experiences with various psychological stressors encountered in social and environmental ‘settings’ [5]. Tertiary education settings can be better utilised to improve the mental health of their students. These settings are well-placed to engage in primary and secondary prevention as well as in facilitating access to tertiary interventions (e.g. ensuring access to appropriate information, treatment and services for students experiencing mental ill health) [6-11]. Improving the mental health of young people could result in substantial social, economic, educational and health benefits for many young people, their families and the community [12]. The purpose of this policy evidence brief is to: 1. identify evidence-based interventions in tertiary education settings that can effectively help young people to manage stress and improve their mental health and lifelong outcomes; and 2. outline policy options to address the stress and mental health concerns of young people to help young people to develop healthy coping strategies to manage unavoidable life stressors [13]. Even though this brief’s goal was to present balanced evidence for tertiary education settings that include both higher education and vocational education and training (VET), the majority of the limited available evidence has focused on higher education students, and evidence for VET students is scarce. The policy options include: Establishing a regular, standardised and monitored national data collection on the state of tertiary students’ mental health and wellbeing to enable evidence-informed and data-driven decision making. Investing in research related to tertiary students’ mental health needs and mental health promotion in tertiary education settings. Increasing support for tertiary education settings to implement and evaluate appropriate evidence-based interventions aimed at improving students’ mental health and wellbeing and to create teaching and learning environments that enhance students’ mental health and wellbeing. Increasing mental health awareness and literacy among students and staff members, especially teaching staff, in tertiary education settings. Investing in the development and resourcing of action/implementation plans for universities across Australia to implement A Framework for Promoting Student Mental Wellbeing in Universities and the Australian University Student Mental Health Framework. Supporting the development of an Australian VET students’ mental health framework and accompanying implementation plan. Increasing cross-sectoral collaboration between the Department of Health and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment to develop and implement national policies across health and education sectors; this would acknowledge tertiary students’ mental health needs and the tertiary education sector as an important partner in the development and delivery of mental health initiatives

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Item type Monograph (Other)
Edition 1st
Official URL
ISBN 9780648800156
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4206 Public health
Current > Division/Research > Mitchell Institute
Keywords behavioural conditions, Australian university students, tertiary education institution, health literacy
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Data Citation/Attribution

Klepac Pogrmilovic, B., Craike, M., Pascoe, M., Dash, S., Parker, A., & Calder, R. (2021). Improving the mental health of young people in tertiary education settings. Mitchell Institute, Victoria University.

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