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Inaugural JCU conference targets mental health in higher education

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Source: James Cook University

The conference will explore strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing.

The conference will explore strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing.

James Cook University Education and Social Work academics are collaborating to bring together leaders in the field of mental health at the Inaugural Australasian Mental Health in Higher Education Conference (IAMHHEC).

The conference will be held at JCU’s Townsville campus on Friday June 30 and Saturday July 1 and is open to the public, who are invited to register now at jcu.edu.au/iamhhec.

“We know that 18 to 24-year-olds have the highest prevalence of mental health challenges of any age group,” said Professor Nola Alloway, Dean of JCU’s College of Arts, Society and Education. 

“Responding to this reality, our conference will explore prevention and intervention programs, strategies and services to improve mental health. Our intention is to build a more resilient culture within higher education and the wider community.”

Keynote speakers travelling from interstate for the conference include Melbourne’s Dr Benjamin Veness, who recently published The Wicked Problem of University Student Mental Health, and Sydney-based GP and facilitator with the Black Dog Institute’s Professional Education team, Dr Jan Orman.

“JCU has accepted a major leadership role in the Australian university sector by organising this conference,” Dr Benjamin Veness said.

“Students and staff desperately need a ‘tone from the top’ that embraces students’ mental health as a core institutional priority. I will be presenting key findings from my Churchill Fellowship publication, which come from an extensive international study tour focused primarily on the US, Canada and the UK. 

“This will include an overview of the culture, services and research that Australian university administrators could develop to improve the mental health of all students.”

GP Jan Orman said the growing availability of online self-help programs, produced in Australia, is a key factor in addressing mental health challenges. 

“The evidence is that for many people, these programs are as good as face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy and intervention,” Dr Orman said.

“I will talk about these programs at length at the conference as our whole community needs to know they are out there. Many mental health problems can be prevented or modified if they’re caught early enough.”

General Manager of Programs and Partnerships for the Mental Illness Fellowship of North Queensland and SOLAS, Jeremy Audas, said JCU’s Inaugural Australasian Mental Health in Higher Education Conference is the first of its kind in Australia.

“I commend JCU for actively engaging in addressing issues around mental health and higher education with flow-on benefits to the whole community,” Mr Audas said.

“For too long mental illness has been subject to stigma, myths and misunderstandings. The way to overcome this is through education, awareness-raising and comprehensive planning.”

Mr Audas will be speaking at the conference about strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing and said that with the increasing prevalence of mental illness, it’s vital we share innovative solutions. 

To register for the conference (and receive an Early Bird discount if you register by 15 May), visit jcu.edu.au/iamhhec.

 

Media contacts:

To request an interview with a speaker, or for further information about the conference, contact Kylie Davis. 
kylie.davis@jcu.edu.au 0414 468 192.