State-wide campaign helps students stress less at university
Western Sydney University has teamed up with WayAhead Mental Health Association NSW in developing a state-wide campaign to help students manage their stress.
The ‘Stress Less at University’ campaign, launched in May 2020, was funded by a Western Sydney University School of Health Sciences Research Partnership Grant.
Dr Arianne Reis, Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences and lead researcher on the project, said 'Stress Less at University' was conceived as a means of giving students the tools and strategies to assist them in self-managing their own mental health and wellbeing.
“We know that many university students are in the early years of adulthood, and are therefore in an age range that typically has high levels of psychological distress, and mental health issues are likely to onset,” said Dr Reis.
“The Stress Less campaign is evidence-based, and student-led. Our researchers systematically reviewed evidence; consulted frontline staff who work directly to support students at a range of universities; and also asked students themselves what strategies they use to get on top of their own stress.
“The learnings were then consolidated into a set of easy to access resources, that all students can benefit from and use.”
Survey responses from more than 4,000 students at Western Sydney University, University of New South Wales and Australian National University were used to compile ‘Ten Tips to Stress Less’, which include:
- Connect with friends and socialise
- Take a break and change your environment
- Listen to music
- Make time for yourself
- Speak to someone you trust
- Get moving, be active
- Nourish your body
- Practise mindfulness
- Spend time with family and loved ones
- Get enough sleep
Dr Reis says the tips were developed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, in the context of the global health situation, the tips are being considered more relevant and valuable than ever.
“Students are under increasing pressure. They are worried about their health, their families, their part-time jobs, their futures – and many are experiencing this stress and fear in isolation,” said Dr Reis.
“We hope that the Stress Less campaign will give students some useful strategies – so that if they are unable to get out of the house to see friends, or to see a professional, they have some alternate ways of minimising their stress and looking after their own mental health and wellbeing.”
Tabarak Abdellatif, a Diploma of Design graduate, won a competition to design the graphics for the Stress Less at Uni campaign. It’s Tabarak’s designs that are being used on all of the campaign postcards and the Ten Top Tips to Stress Less – which are helping Western students self-manage their stress, and promote wellbeing.
“I thought this competition would be a good opportunity to get some experience working on a live brief, and create some more works for my professional portfolio," said Tabarak.
"When I saw that the subject of the competition was mental health, I was even more eager to apply. Mental health is something that I have always been passionate about. I hope students find the postcards useful to help them deal with stress.”
The research team at Western Sydney university included lead researcher Dr Arianne Reis, Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences; Dr Nerida Klupp, Senior Lecturer from the School of Health Sciences; Dr Sandro Sperandei, Visiting Fellow; and Rowena Saheb, Mental Health and Wellbeing Promotions Coordinator.
For more information about the Stress Less at University campaign and the research process, visit: https://westernsydney.edu.au/stressless
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