The COVID-19 pandemic has caused uncertainty and stress for so many university students.

So how can universities support and reach out to students? And how do students build up their resilience?

Professor Sarah Wilson is the Pro Vice-Chancellor Student Life at the University of Melbourne and an internationally recognised expert in cognitive neuroscience and clinical neuropsychology.

She says a sense of belonging and connection is crucial for mental health and wellbeing.

“We know that social friendships, even just a brief hello with the local barista while we are ordering a coffee, social contacts, connections are in fact the things that alter our mood and protect our mental health because they are associated with increases in our sense of wellbeing.”

And while COVID-19 has made that challenging, people should take the opportunity to reconnect as restrictions ease.

“Our sense of belonging and connection and your sense of mental health and wellbeing depends on you stepping out of that door and not stepping back in, but hopping on the tram, or on your bike, or in your car… and being part of the community.”

Professor Wilson also says it’s important to get used to the “idea of change” as we move through lockdown and pandemic restrictions.

“Having in our toolkit, methods for starting to learn to live with this virus and accepting that this fluctuating pattern might be part of life for the foreseeable future and learning to adapt to that.”

Listen to the podcast here >>


Episode recorded: June 21, 2021.

Interviewer: Dr Andi Horvath.

Producer, audio engineer and editor: Chris Hatzis.

Co-producers: Silvi Vann-Wall and Dr Andi Horvath.

Part exhibition, part experiment, MENTAL is a welcoming place to confront societal bias and stereotypes about mental health. It features 21 works from local and international artists and research collaborators that explore different ways of being, surviving and connecting to each other. Opening in July 2021, book your free tickets now.

Banner: SELFCARE4EVA_2001 by Mary Angley and Caithlin O’Loghlen: Installation view, MENTAL: Head Inside, Science Gallery Melbourne/ Picture: Alan Weedon

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