University staff and students are at high risk of ill health. Here's how to make sure they can cope

  • Written by Brad Wright, Sessional Academic (Health & Physical Education), Charles Sturt University

University students are an at-risk population for many health issues. These include mental health, alcohol and substance use, sexual assault and harassment, poor diet and lack of exercise.

Perhaps just as important, but more frequently overlooked, is the well-being of university staff. They exhibit similar risk factors for ill health. Searching for wellness or well-being on most university websites will lead to a dedicated page detailing a wealth of independent strategies and programs focusing on specific areas of health, such as mental health or workplace safety.

But studies have shown different areas of health are closely related. For example, physical activity levels and sporting club involvement have been shown to improve mental health. Universities need to take a more coordinated and comprehensive approach to promoting the health and well-being of their staff and students.

What are the biggest health risk factors?

The cuts to university funding and casualisation of the university workforce have resulted in high levels of psychological distress and feelings of job dissatisfaction among many university staff. Staff risk passing this dissatisfaction on to their students.

University staff are also particularly susceptible to preventable risks for ill-health. These include smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, alcohol consumption, high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure. A recent study indicated almost 50% of the university staff surveyed were at high to moderate risk for developing ill-health because they exhibited three or more of these risk factors.

University staff and students are at high risk of ill health. Here's how to make sure they can cope University students and staff are at risk of high levels of stress. www.shutterstock.com

The relatively poor health outcomes of university staff and students are primarily due to the stress and pressures associated with their circumstances. Staff are stressed due to poor job security, unmanageable workloads and low income. Students are stressed as a result of the difficulty in balancing study and other commitments such as placement, work, friends, family, and income.

What works to create healthier universities?

Organisation-level health promotion initiatives, such as job redesign, peer support groups and coaching and career planning have been shown to improve stress management.

The Healthy Universities framework is a good example of a holistic approach universities could use to address the risk factors common among staff and students. Instead of having a bunch of separate programs that focus on specific areas of health, a “healthy university” takes a whole-of-institution approach to creating a supportive environment for everyone who works and studies there.

While the “healthy university” is not a new concept, it gained traction following the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges in Canada. The conference resulted in the development of the Okanagan Charter. Researchers, health professionals, administrators, students and policy makers from 45 countries collaborated to design this framework for health promotion in universities.

In 2016, representatives from 25 Australian universities joined together to form the Australian Health Promoting Universities Network. This represents a major commitment towards the application of the framework within Australia.

What does a healthy university look like?

The health needs of each university are different due to varying needs, resources and the location of each. Globally, there are several examples of the application of the Healthy Universities framework, such as the University of Edinburgh’s integrated Healthy University Project.

Read more: More students are dropping out of university because of mental health problems

There are also numerous examples in Australia.

The University of the Sunshine Coast has implemented the Healthy University Initiative. This includes a range of programs, policies and services to create a healthy working and learning environment. These include gymnasium, sport and fitness facilities, and free mental health training programs.

Charles Sturt University has provided opportunities for physical activity in response to staff and students expressing a need for them. These opportunities include discounted gym memberships, increased access to recreational physical activities, stronger links to local health providers, and continual encouragement for staff and students to use these resources.

University staff and students are at high risk of ill health. Here's how to make sure they can cope Free yoga classes are a great way to provide opportunities for physical activity and support mindfulness. Alex Barber/flickr

How does a healthy university impact staff and students?

Evidence shows a holistic approach to health on campus better supports the health and well-being of staff and students. It also has a positive effect on their sense of belonging as well as recruitment and retention.

This is promising. The stress-inducing culture of university and the associated negative health outcomes have been identified as common reasons for student dropout and staff disengagement in work.

Read more: Early intervention is key to support students with anxiety about starting university

While some areas may be beyond the direct control of a university, a holistic approach, like the Healthy Universities framework, should be adopted. This type of coordinated support helps students and staff cope with stressors by establishing appropriate support networks between students, their peers, other mentors and academics and integrating a more creative and needs-based approach for staff satisfaction.

Authors: Brad Wright, Sessional Academic (Health & Physical Education), Charles Sturt University

Read more http://theconversation.com/university-staff-and-students-are-at-high-risk-of-ill-health-heres-how-to-make-sure-they-can-cope-101070

Australia Today

10 Unmissable Attractions for first time visitors to Melbourne

News Company

Melbourne, the most fantastic city in Australia! If this is your first ever travel experience in Melbourne, well it is guaranteed that you are never going to forget it. The metropolitan hub has a lot to offer to its visors, both within the city and the outskirts. There are so many attractions tha...

Read more

Grass trees aren't a grass (and they're not trees)

John Patykowski, Plant ecologist, Deakin University

Xanthorrhoea have no real trunk – just tightly packed leaves. CC BY-SASign up to the Beating Around the Bush newsletter here, and suggest a plant we should cover at batb@theconversation.edu.au.Grass trees (genus Xanthorrhoea) look like they were imagined by Dr Seuss. An unmistakable tuft of wi...

Read more

Peter Grimes is a thrilling and moving staging of the great English opera

Trevor Jones, Lecturer in Musical Theatre, Griffith University

Stuart Skelton in the title role of Peter Grimes.Brisbane FestivalReview: Peter Grimes, Brisbane FestivalPeter Grimes, one of the centrepiece events of this year’s Brisbane Festival, is a remarkable collaboration between the festival, Opera Queensland, Philip Bacon AM, the Queensland Performin...

Read more

Michelle Grattan on strawberries, Sudmalis, schools, and the au pair affair

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Michelle Grattan speaks with University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Deep Saini about the week in politics. They discuss rushed legislation on strawberry contamination, the Liberals continued women problem with Ann Sudmalis’ announcement she won’t recontest her seat, the government’...

Read more

Super. If Labor really wanted to help women in retirement, it would do something else

Brendan Coates, Fellow, Grattan Institute

Labor's plan to pay super to women on paid parental leave would barely boost their retirement incomes.ShutterstockWhen it comes to the gender gap in retirement incomes, symbolism appears to matter more than actually achieving something.Labor’s plan to add super contributions to government-fund...

Read more

Is it time for Australia to be more open about research involving animals?

Tyler Paytas, Research Fellow in Philosophy, Australian Catholic University

Most people never have the chance to see how animals live in laboratories.from www.shutterstock.com The use of animals in scientific research is a complex ethical issue, and these studies typically take place behind closed doors.But since 2012, more than 120 of Britain’s universities, research...

Read more

Holidays & Travel

Things to Do and See in Ballina, Australia

The intricate coastline of New South Wales is renowned for its sumptuous, decadent beaches, hidden resorts and secret camping spots. A long and slow ride down the winding highway that...

Guide to Travel Necessities for 2018

Sure, it sounds like quite an adventure to hit an open road with nothing but a one-way ticket and an open mind, but the harsh reality is – you won’t...

Top Sightseeing Spots in New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most fascinating locations for anyone to visit in the world. After all, it’s a place with a variety of unique landscapes, but it isn’t...

Must-Pack Items for a Travel Blogging Boss

As a travel blogger, you get to see and explore so many wonderful destinations and meet various interesting people, but before you embark on a new adventure you need to...

Luxury Camping Adventures Around the World

Perhaps in direct response to the dominance of technology in the modern world, many travelers are feeling a strong draw towards nature. While some are able to fully embrace their...

Dredging works underway Plantation Island

Tourists and workers travelling to popular tourist destination Plantation Island, Fiji, are set to benefit from safer access when marine channel dredging is completed at the end of June 2018...

Top 5 Tips for Traveling With Dogs

Travelling with your dog can be thrilling, but sometimes it can turn into a real nuisance. Unless you know how to properly restrain the pooch, whether it’ll be able to...

Top Island Destinations for 2018

When we picture island destinations in our minds, we often imagine a tropical beach of white sand, a sun lounger laid out in the shade of a line of palm...

Why Car Rental Excess Insurance is a Smart Choice

Some car rental agencies include basic damage cover in the standard rental fee, with the option to add on liability reduction, or excess insurance. The addition of excess insurance normally...

Fashion & Beauty

Groom To Do List

Sorry Aussie Men, you no longer just pay for the alcohol, flowers and marriage license. Times have certainly changed. Wedding Expert shares what Australian Grooms are now expected to do before...

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is...

Improve Your Body Confidence and Feel Great

No matter how good you feel about yourself, sometimes you just can’t help but see a few little flaws that seem gigantic to you and make you feel self-conscious. Whether...

First-Timer Tips For Your First Lip Filler Appointment

Getting injectable lip fillers can be a quick and effective way to plump up your smile with minimal drama. They’re a cost-effective and safe way to boost the natural shape...

The Most Common Skin Conditions and How to Deal with Them

We often underestimate the importance of our skin, but as the largest organ in our body, and our primary layer of defense, it is constantly affected by many environmental factors...

Beach Babe Basics: Everything You Need to Look Stylish at the Beach

Summer is right around the corner, and this year, we all should make the best of it. Right now, it is not just about looking stylish on the streets, it...

HEALTH

Virectin Reviews and Results (LATEST) - Honest Review

Virectin is a potent, natural male enhancement supplement, recommended to all those who are interested in improving their sexual performance. According to the manufacturers, it can provide a positive effect...

How to Choose the Best Lasik Surgeon?? It’s as easy as it can get!

Whether you have had a vision problem since childhood, or you have developed one recently, eye surgeries are the answer to all your problems. It can be anything, ranging from...

Laser Liposuction: The Myths and Facts

Laser liposuction is a revolutionary new way to get rid of unwanted fat without the downtime experienced with traditional liposuction. This procedure offers a number of amazing benefits and is...

How To Show Your Elderly Relatives Love

At every stage of our lives, there’s one thing we truly need above all else: love. As our elderly parents, grandparents, or other relatives we care about grow older, it...

9 Ways to Recognize the Early Signs of Dementia

Dementia is a condition that is, unfortunately, very present among our elderly population. What makes this fact even worse is that, in spite of our best intentions and will to...

Co-Occurring Disorders and Overcoming Addiction

Co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, refer to the combination of substance abuse and the presence of a mental disorder.  Many individuals who enter treatment for substance abuse are...

LIFE STYLE

Should You Repair Or Replace Your Air Conditioning Unit?

Whenever the summer arrives to the hilt and you feel that your air conditioning isn’t up to the mark, there is always one question that pops up into your mind...

6 Rug Trends That Will Boost Style and Comfort in Your Home

If you want to break up that boring and colorless look of your home, one of the easiest and quickest ways is to throw in a rug! Check out these...

Put your problems to rest with Antenna Genie

When the idea of television was first being tested, Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox famously remarked that “no one would want to stare at a plywood box every night”...

Top 5 Design Trends in Commercial Interior

Commercial buildings include offices, restaurants, hotels, etc. and their design can play a crucial role in all the important aspects of a business such as brand reinforcement, customer engagement and...

Add a little colour to your move - and life!

How a little ‘colour’ and planning can take your Move, and make it a more enjoyable one Colour plays a huge role in our lives, it can take us up, or...

6 Simple Rules for Redesigning Your Kitchen

How do you feel about your kitchen? Well, if you feel like your home needs a bit of lifting up, one of the best and most effective places to start...

FOOD & DINING

Morning greens: the breakfast skincare regime

It’s safe to assume that most Aussies fail to eat enough greens. Although this was momentarily resolved with the rise and popularity of the green juice movement, the lack of...

Best Hidden Gem Hong Kong Restaurants

You finally find yourself enjoying the endless beauties of China and this fascinating city. In a place with so much variety, all your senses will be wide awake, and your...

JOHNNY DI FRANCESCO NAMED OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR OF EAT STREET MELBOURNE

Johnny Di Francesco, world champion pizzaiolo and owner of Melbourne’s Gradi Group of restaurants, is excited to announce he has been named official ambassador for Eat Street Melbourne 2018. As Ambassador...

The best Mother's Day gift EVER!

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...

Sing for Your Supper at Chargrill Charlie’s

To celebrate the final curtain call of the Barden Bellas, Chargrill Charlie’s is giving you the chance to Sing for your Supper! Show off your best acapella vocals to win...

MAKE IT WINE TIME, ANY TIME

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...