Masters project shapes UQ mental health policy

29 Aug 2017

A research project by a Masters student has laid the groundwork for a mental health strategy for The University of Queensland.

As part of her Master of Counselling, Vicky Dawes undertook her practical placement within UQ’s Student Services, providing individual counselling for students.

Having a particular interest in mental health and wellbeing Vicky wrote a proposal for a mental health policy for UQ as part of her assessment within the Counselling for Health and Capacity Challenges course.

“I really enjoyed researching the project and it certainly looked like there was a place for a UQ strategy,” she said.

“I showed my manager at Student Services who was impressed by it, but I thought that was the end of it.”

Vicky graduated in November 2016 and has since been working as a casual student counsellor at UQ.

Unbeknownst to Vicky her proposal had made quite an impact, and was delivered with fortuitous timing.

In early 2017 Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, released a report entitled Under the Radar: The mental health of Australian university students, stating that the mental health of university students had been largely ignored.

“The Orygen report was pretty instrumental in UQ’s decision to pursue a mental health strategy,” Vicky said.

“I have now been asked by the Director of Student Services if I would like to project manage the development of a mental health strategy for UQ.

“Of course I have jumped at the opportunity, and my masters project is being used as the background paper for the Steering Group.

“I'm now knee deep in development of the strategy, and luckily I am still able to keep my skills up with student counselling, albeit with a slightly reduced work load.”