A partnership between Hauraki PHO and the University of Waikato
to enhance the mental wellbeing of the university community
In an innovative approach to enhancing mental wellbeing, Hauraki PHO and the University of Waikato are working together on Mental Wellbeing@Waikato. Hauraki PHO are supporting member practice Student Health and the wider University of Waikato community with the development, implementation and evaluation of a Mental Wellbeing Strategy based on community psychology principles. The Strategy, Mental Wellbeign@Waikato, provides the framework for a strategic and coordinated approach to enhancing the wellbeing of the University community.
Hauraki PHO selected the University setting to pilot a community psychology approach to mental wellbeing because the high stress environment of academic excellence and the developmental stage of most students means university communities are at higher risk of poor mental wellbeing. Mental Wellbeing@Waikato has been coordinated by intern Community Psychologist Hayley Lord and is based on core community psychology values that are also well-regarded by Hauraki PHO and the University of Waikato including:
- Social justice
- Empowerment and competence enhancement
- Diversity and cultural pluralism
- Cultural awareness and biculturalism
- Social innovation and social change
With unwavering support and commitment from across the University community including the Waikato Student Union, Mental Wellbeing@Waikato prioritises both prevention and quality mental health support services with two strategic goals:
Goal 1: Wellbeing
- To enhance the mental wellbeing of individuals, groups and the wider university of Waikato community
Goal 2: Support
- High quality services support those with mental illness
Projects under each goal take in gap analysis, raising awareness, providing resources and training, and monitoring and evaluation. Early initiatives, such as, the development of wellbeing hubs to provide a place for students to chill out and a series of Wellbeing Workshops for students, support achievement of the Wellbeing Goal. This goal is also supported by the appointment of a Violence Prevention Coordinator and a Health Promotion Coordinator, key populations (initially focussing on equity for Māori, Pacific and LGBTQIA communities on campus).
Early initiatives promoting quality services for those with mental illness include improved access to psychological services and counselling (individual and group sessions), the development of a suicide policy, training and resources for staff to identify and support those in a mental health crisis, and the recruitment of a Mental Health Nurse to the Student Health Services Team.
Systems are in place to evaluate each of the initiatives which can then be shared with other universities and communities. In the meantime, initial feedback from staff and students is extremely positive and both are enjoying the opportunity to work together for a shared vision of a healthy campus community.
For additional information contact Hayley Lord, hayley (at) kawakawagroup.co.nz.
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