The competency framework aims to provide structure to the mental health support provided at Australian universities, for the country’s 1.5 million students and over 100,000 staff each year, functioning as an important point of reference . It aims to complement the existing network of support services in Australian higher education.
Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia, said the framework was built with the multiple mental health risk factors in universities in mind that students and staff face.
“We know that the devastating impact of suicide on academic communities is immediate, traumatic, and far-reaching.
“We know that the devastating impact of suicide on academic communities is immediate, traumatic and far-reaching,” she said.
“And as many return to campus after a period of much uncertainty and disruption, universities understand their responsibility for the health, safety and well-being of the students they educate, as well as their staff.
“We encourage universities to embed this framework into their existing policies and practices as a critical step in ensuring that everyone who needs support can access a consistent, high-quality, and safe standard of care,” Jackson emphasized.
Note that suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged 18 to 24 in Australia.
Additionally, there was also calls for addressing the issue of suicide among international students in Australia in recent years. Many international students face various distress factors about moving to a new country, adapting to a different culture and new ways of living and studying. The absence of a coordinated and systematic approach to solving the problem was also identified as a major shortcoming.
The efforts of Universities Australia and Suicide Prevention Australia aim to provide support and complement the efforts of universities to address these challenges and fill the existing gaps in suicide prevention.
The methodology adopted for the development of the framework centered on a consultative approach, with 27 participants from 11 universities, informing on the main gaps and the various elements needed to provide stronger support in suicide prevention and health. mentality in their establishments.
The framework highlights that a higher percentage of people who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex; and culturally and linguistically diverse are more vulnerable to suicide. Therefore, it seeks to build momentum in support of these groups of individuals in Australian universities.
“While anyone can engage in suicidal behavior, certain population groups may be disproportionately affected. It is important to consider all factors that may increase distress and work to address them through targeted responses if necessary,” the framework document emphasizes.
“Suicide prevention initiatives are most effective when grounded in group beliefs, values and needs,” he says.
“We all have a role to play in suicide prevention. Partnerships like this have the ability to build robust solutions that can make a real difference in the lives of many people,” said Nieves Murray, CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia.
“Importantly, this approach takes into consideration the roles of non-clinical academic staff and students in responding to the diverse and complex risk factors found in universities,” she stressed.
The document recommends that universities “mainstream” the framework into their policies and activities in key structures and operational areas such as HR and occupational health and safety. It also emphasizes the adoption good practice resources in the design of suicide prevention programs and services.
“Recognizing the warning signs and responding appropriately is an essential part of suicide prevention”
“The suicide prevention competency framework will be evidence-based, culturally accessible and practical in supporting universities to build on protective factors, while reducing risk within their communities,” Murray added.
“Recognizing the warning signs and responding appropriately to them is an essential part of suicide prevention.
“We hope that with this framework, we can encourage more universities to facilitate these conversations, reduce stigma, and ultimately reduce suicide deaths. We can never underestimate the impact that every life lost by suicide has on family, friends, workplaces and the wider community,” she concluded.
If you need help, help is available.
Beyond the blue: 1300 224 636
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255