headspace to lead coordinated mental health response in universities

The National Youth Mental Health Foundation, headspace, has been funded to develop a suicide prevention/postvention program for Australian universities, empowering university staff to support the mental health needs of their students, including how they plan for, respond to, and recover from the impact of suicide.  

The University Support Program will see headspace deliver to all of Australia’s 43 universities:

  • mental health literacy training that enables university staff to identify mental health issues in their students,
  • Responding to Suicide: A Toolkit for Australian Universities - practical guidance for university staff to keep their communities safe in the weeks and months following a death by suicide, and
  • a critical incident support service to consult with universities about the next steps following a tragedy of this nature.

headspace CEO Jason Trethowan said the approach will strengthen the capacity of Australian universities to prevent and respond to suicide risk.

“We know from the Productivity Commission that university students have worse mental health outcomes than the rest of the population,” he said.

“Being a university student comes with a unique set of challenges, including academic demands, financial pressures and moving away from support networks at home.

“International students also face language and cultural challenges while studying in Australia.

“As the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, headspace is well placed to support universities to respond to the mental health needs of their students.

“University staff play a key role in supporting their students’ mental health, and headspace is excited to work with them on strategies that will make their universities more equip to respond to concerns of mental health and wellbeing.”

headspace recognises the existing mental health support that universities offer their staff and students and look forward to partnering with universities to tailor the support available from the University Support Program.

Senior Manager Mental Health and Wellbeing Stream at La Trobe University Georgina Hanna says, “headspace is a leader in the Australian mental health landscape, so partnering with them around the issue of suicide postvention makes perfect sense.

“The mental health and wellbeing of our students and staff at La Trobe University is of utmost importance, and we are always seeking new ways to ensure they feel supported in tough times.

“The University Support Program has equipped us to better manage when someone in our community is affected by suicide. 

“By partnering with headspace, universities around Australia are getting approachable, engaging expert support to make sure students and staff are supported following a suicide.”

More information about the University Support Program can be found on our website, with links to upcoming training and education sessions where you can register your attendance.

The headspace University Support Program has received grant funding from the Australian Government under its National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program.

headspace encourages any young person, family member or friend in need of support to visit their nearest headspace centre. Support is also available via phone and online counselling service eheadspace, seven days a week between 9am–1am (AEST). The number is 1800 650 890.

If you’re looking for someone to talk to immediately, Lifeline (13 11 14) and Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) are available to talk 24/7.