Swinburne trials mental health program for students with Medibank and Uprise

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Student using a phone

While the evidence-based program has been used successfully in businesses to increase workplace productivity, this is the first time the technology is being trialled with university students.

In summary

  • Swinburne students trial online mental health program designed to improve mental resilience
  • Program created by Uprise and has been used successfully in workplaces
  • A collaboration between Swinburne, Uprise and Medibank

Swinburne is conducting a first-of-its-kind trial of an online mental health intervention designed to equip students with coping strategies to improve their mental resilience.

In collaboration with Swinburne’s health partner Medibank, 70 students will participate in a randomised control trial of the mental health and performance improvement solution created by Uprise.

The program intends to support students performing poorly at university due to mental health issues, with the aim of reducing the attrition rates of those most at risk of leaving their course before graduating.

Assessing the effectiveness of the program

Senior Lecturer in Psychology and head of the Social Health and Wellbeing (SHAW) Lab, Dr Michelle Lim, and Research Fellow in the SHAW Lab, Karra Harrington, are leading a trial to assess its effectiveness.

Dr Lim says students will be assessed on their mental resilience through questionnaires before and after completing the program.

“By conducting this trial here at Swinburne, we will be able to analyse how effective the program is at teaching mental resilience techniques. The research rigour applied to the trial will give us a clear indication of the benefits Uprise can have on students,” Dr Lim says.

While the evidence-based program has been used successfully in businesses to increase workplace productivity, this is the first time the technology is being trialled with university students.

CEO of Uprise, Dr Jay Spence, says research shows these digital programs are now just as effective as face-to-face therapies for common mental health issues.

“Having seen the positive results of employees using Uprise in the workplace, we’re excited about the potential this program has to identify and support university students facing mental health issues,” Dr Spence says. 

Supporting students throughout the program

The participating students will complete four modules on a range of mental health-related topics, teaching them coping strategies to assist with their studies.

Ms Harrington says students will also have the option to contact a psychologist or counsellor if they feel they need further support.

“At any time during the four weeks, students will be able to contact a psychologist or counsellor, referred to in the program as a ‘coach’. They can book online or call a coach for additional support and advice on any issues they’re experiencing,” Ms Harrington says.

Advancing health and wellbeing research

The collaboration between Swinburne and Medibank is part of the three-year partnership strategy to support the health and wellbeing of the Swinburne community.

“This project draws on Swinburne researchers’ expertise in digital health with a focus on improving student stress and academic outcomes,” says Vice President (Students), Dr Andrew Smith.

Medibank’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan says Medibank is thrilled to facilitate this pioneering program to benefit the health and wellbeing of students.

“Medibank is excited to connect two of our partners, Swinburne and Uprise, on this important project that has the potential to add value to the experience of university students,” Dr Swan says.

“Mental health is a significant public health issue, with economic and social consequence for all Australians - one in five Australians experience a mental health condition in a given year. In addition to this important student health project with Swinburne, Medibank recently committed $1 million to establish the Medibank Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund.”