Mental health is becoming one of the most pressing issues in Australia.
Sadly, one in five adult Australians now suffers from a form of mental illness. Recent studies show the prevalence of mental ill-health in children and young people is growing, with around 14% of those aged 4 – 17 now affected. Despite the growing numbers, there’s still a lack of understanding of what it is and how to deal with it as a community.
“So many people suffer in silence with the fear of ridicule and the stigma surrounding the word ‘mental.’ Nobody should ever have to suffer in silence. By working with students of varying abilities and family backgrounds, I am getting a clearer understanding of how common mental health disorders are among different families’ – Robert Madgwick, Torrens University Student.
Kids aren’t getting the help they need
Despite the huge need for services and training to respond to this situation, there’s still a significant lack of funding and strategy in the Government’s approach. Australian schools, educators, parents, health workers and the community are largely left to manage mental health issues themselves. Unfortunately, teachers are often not equipped with the training or resources they need to respond to students’ individual needs. As a result, there are growing reports of students with mental health issues being left behind or excluded.
No-one understands this situation better than Robert
Diagnosed with mental health conditions as a young person, Robert became inspired to try and help other people going through similar experiences. After working as a casual teacher and tutor for several years, he decided to enrol in the Graduate Certificate of Education (Mental Health) at Torrens University.
“Since I was diagnosed with mental health conditions, Mental Health has always been a passion for me. I want to be able to help people in their endeavours to combat mental health. It is my mission to promote mental health and ensure that nobody suffers in silence. My studies at Torrens University complements this endeavour and improves my knowledge of mental health conditions”.
Research your options, consider them carefully
Steven is a person who makes careful choices about where he directs his energy. He chose to teach because he saw it’s potential as a way to do something positive in the world. He also researched a wide range of universities online before he made his decision about where to go. So why did he choose specifically to study his Masters at Torrens?
Torrens presented itself as an institution 100% committed to higher learning that could be applied directly and meaningfully in the workplace. Now that I’m a year into my Masters course, I haven’t been disappointed. Almost every single reading and conversation has generated a new and exciting initiative for me to launch at work.
My favorite part of studying this course is how much work its designers and facilitators have done to make it apply directly to my professional context. Its instructional team is drawing on decades of international professional experience and scholarship, working to develop literacy with schools and students.
“Torrens University has developed an innovative, unique approach to education in mental health, autism and other conditions by using real-life case studies and input from those who’ve experienced mental illness to guide the content and structure of the course. Students will learn directly from the experiences of people who they’re going to be helping in the future.”
Reducing stigma of mental illness
‘Many people suffer in silence with the fear of ridicule and the stigma surrounding the word ‘mental’. Nobody should ever have to suffer in silence for mental health. It is under-recognised and is quite often a ‘touchy’ subject that nobody wants to accept or encourage. Mental health education needs to be promoted to combat this increasing epidemic!’
Recognising the importance of an inclusive classroom and the need to eliminate stigma, Torrens University has developed an innovative, unique approach to education in mental health, autism and other conditions. This ‘Person First’ approach uses real-life case studies and input from those who’ve experienced mental illness to guide the content and structure of the course. Education students like Robert learn directly from the experiences of people who they’re going to be helping in the future.
‘My studies with Torrens have opened my eyes to the silent challenges that many sufferers face. Torrens base their courses on real-life issues. Each module contains real-life case studies and readings that touch on contemporary issues. Though extremely engaging, some content and case studies may be confronting, as you look back and reflect on your own experiences, but you will be amazed at how closely linked each mental health disorder is and how common they are.
Each module is engaging and offers a new way of thinking about mental health. Content is not textbook-based. It has confirmed that mental health does not have a face – it can present to anyone in different ways…. You grow and become a more understanding and sympathetic person.’
“My studies with Torrens have opened my eyes to the silent challenges that many sufferers face. Torrens base their courses on real-life issues, each module contains real-life case studies and readings”
Making time to train in mental health
In a recent survey of 600 principals and teachers, 47% responded that they did not have time to dedicate to achieving mental health outcomes and only one third reported having adequate training. So here’s the dilemma: schools need teachers with better mental health training but teachers often don’t have the time to go out and study.
A key solution is providing flexible training options for teachers. Knowing that a lot of students are still teaching, Torrens has made the Graduate Certificate of Education (Mental Health) as flexible as possible. The course can be completed online, part-time or full-time. Robert chose to complete his course online.
The Graduate Certificate of Education (Mental Health) came up as a suggestion on a Google search for mental health short courses. Mind you, this was the only option for mental health courses in general. Prior to this course, I was not aware of Torrens University so I wasn’t sure what to expect- but I am glad I took the step to enrol! My only regret is not finding this course sooner!
The lecturer meets with students on a weekly basis to discuss weekly modules and relating it back to current examples, thus allowing the puzzle pieces to connect and make sense. Each Monday night I look forward to finishing work to make our weekly lectures. They allow me to consolidate my ideas and increasingly apply theory to practice. Staff is also knowledgeable, friendly, and approachable. It is the best experience I’ve had in my education.
So, what’s next for Robert?
Although he’s not due to graduate until 2018, Robert is already bringing his insights from his new training into his tutoring and casual teaching. He’d like to go on to do a Masters in Special Education, but in the meantime, he’s pretty happy with where he’s at.
‘My current job is my dream job- helping others and making a difference! Teaching and providing tuition sessions for those underprivileged students and running my tutoring business – even though I’m drowning in paperwork, I’m living the dream!’