Despite relative inactivity in 2018, the ANUSA Mental Health Committee is looking to take on a new lease of life as the “Wellbeing Committee” in 2019.
The Mental Health Committee (MHC) once enjoyed a significant presence on campus, holding events and conducting projects designed to raise awareness of mental health issues and to advocate for those affected by poor mental health.
According to the 2017 Chairs’ Handover Document, written by Co-Chair Bolwen Fu, the Mental Health Committee served the two primary purposes of providing information and advocacy with regard to mental health at university. It aimed to “communicate truths and best practices about mental health to the student body,” and sought to achieve this by running events such as expert panels.
The Mental Health Committee of 2017 was relatively active and maintained a noticeable presence within the student body, holding barbecues, panels, weekly meetings and publishing zines. The Mental Health Committee of 2018, however, was the opposite.
2018 saw the position of Co-Chairs move to the ANUSA Vice President Tess Masters, and the ANUSA Disabilities Officer, Amy Bryan. This meant that the Co-Chairs now had the ability to vote at the Student Representative Council, whereas previously this was not possible.
This change of Co-Chairs also brought with it a change in direction for the Mental Health Committee, with physical meetings being planned for every 6-8 weeks as opposed to the previous weekly meetings.
No official meeting of the Mental Health Committee was held in 2018, and its presence effectively disappeared. But, luckily, it appears that it’s future is looking brighter than ever.
The Vice President of ANUSA for 2019, Campbell Clapp, has told Woroni of his plans to rebrand the Mental Health Committee into something more of a “Wellbeing Committee.” This will help to “increase the scope of what the committee can do,” and it also helps to reflect the intention for the committee to be “more in line with the direction of the university.” Clapp told Woroni that he hopes to work closely with ANU’s Director of Wellbeing, Bernadette Morris.
This seems to suggest the Wellbeing Committee will be following a similar approach to the University’s Health University Strategy. This strategy aims to provide a “universal and whole of system approach to supporting the wellbeing of ANU students” and will be coordinated across all areas of ANU by Access and Inclusion, and the Wellbeing Unit.
Some focusses of ANU’s wellbeing strategy include better quantitative research into student wellbeing, off-campus student wellbeing, and Chinese student wellbeing. The Mental Health Committee’s change of name and focus could mean more resource allocation by ANUSA to these underrepresented groups on campus.
Clapp intends to act initially as chair of the Wellbeing Committee, following Tess’ footsteps. However, once a “considered plan” is decided upon for the Committee’s direction this year, he plans on delegating this role to another dedicated member of the Committee.
Clapp expressed his desire to “look at more proactive initiatives” that can be set up to “improve the general wellbeing of University students”, as well as to run educative campaigns on available resources and avenues for assistance.
Increasingly, national organisations have taken a preventative approach to mental wellbeing. Organisation Everymind uses a prevention first framework, focusing on promotion of wellbeing and primary prevention (which occurs before onset of mental ill-health). The ANUSA Mental Health Committee’s rebranding follows this national trend.
While nothing has been released yet, calls for expressions of interest are expected soon.
If you or someone you know have been affected in any way, please reach out to the support services listed.
Beyond Blue Beyond Blue provides support and information on anxiety, depression and suicide. It offers a 24 hour hotline dedicated to crisis support for depression, anxiety and suicide prevention. Call 1300 22 4636.
Lifeline (13 11 14) A national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. Call 13 11 13.
ANU Counselling The ANU Counselling Centre offers free, confidential and non-diagnostic service available to all currently enrolled ANU students. They provide on the day appointments every weekday at 9 am. No referral or Mental Health Treatment Plan from a General Practitioner is required to attend appointments.