Auckland University of Technology (AUT) has marked Mental Health Awareness Week with the release of a new Resilience App for staff and students, the first of its kind by a New Zealand university.
The app — designed to help students and staff build mental strength and increase their ability to withstand stressful situations — is full of guided tools to improve health, relationships and overall happiness.
The app is based on content created by Wade Jackson and Evie Ashton of Inspired Learning with the assistance of Dr Mark Thorpe, clinical psychologist and senior lecturer in Psychology at AUT.
The mental health of students has become a growing concern at universities throughout the world.
A Times Higher Education article early this year suggested that 71% of the 2,460 students questioned experience or have experienced some form of mental illness including depression, anxiety and eating disorders. The same study also found that 40% of these students would much rather conceal their condition than discuss it with a mental health professional, stating that they would feel “too ashamed” or “too worried” to speak up.
Statistics New Zealand data shows almost 9% of 15 to 24 year olds (the highest across all age groups) have high or very high levels of psychological distress, a risk factor for mental illness.
Resilience refers to the ability to adapt to stressful situations and to bounce back quickly from them and the AUT Resilience App encourages this through a range of modules covering energy, mindfulness, emotional agility, playfulness, compassion and being connected.
“University study is inherently stressful at various times, either as the result of exams and assignments, new social challenges or simply the pressures of balancing general life with the need to devote time and energy into academic pursuits,” says Group Director of Student Services & Administration Joanna Scarbrough.
“We’re really proud of the reputation we have for supporting our students and the app is yet another tool in the array of services the University makes available to support AUT students and staff.
“It’s not a silver bullet by itself, but it’s an important means of connecting with technology-driven students who may not want to open up to a counsellor, as well as helping people who are comfortable with their current mental health become even stronger more resilient people.”