It’s customary, when writing an article about mental health, to start by bombarding the reader with stats like 45% of Australians will suffer some sort of mental health difficulty within their lifetime or that only one third of these people choose to seek professional help. But that’s a bit dull.
Everyone knows what a big (and growing) issue mental health is. The University knows, the SRC knows, the USU knows, and you know. But why isn’t more being done about it?
Sure, there are some solid services on campus (CAPS, headspace and the Psych Clinic) and certain individuals who’ve pushed for more vigorous mental health policy. But in terms of a concerted effort from students and student organisations, there hasn’t been a lot of activity. Until recently.
Third-year social work student Mikaela Higgins is one of the founders of MAHSoc, a newly-formed Mental Awareness and Health Society. Describing her motivations for starting MAHSoc, she says, “I felt a lack of support for those struggling with mental health and I felt like I was in a position to do something about it, having battled through mental health issues and made it to the other side.”
“The impact of mental health issues is enormous, and the stigma around it – even on a progressive campus like USYD – obstructs the recovery process.”
MAHSoc’s aims are two-fold. Firstly, to build awareness for mental health and remove the stigma around it by running campaigns and lobbying campus organisations to do more. Secondly, to create a support network for people who are struggling. This means providing a safe, welcoming space for people to hang out and do something active each week, whether it’s going to a comedy show, a cooking class, or ballroom dancing.
This isn’t a replacement for professional help. In fact, the society sees itself as a portal to help and aims to encourage those who are seeking help by informing them on the services available and their options.
MAHSoc will start running events late this semester. If you’re interested in being involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.