Teaching and curriculum design to support mental wellbeing
AUGUST, 2020
Digital Learning Teaching & Learning Learning Innovations Team Collaboration
More than 100 Deakin staff listened to a Deakin staff and student panel discussion on ‘Teaching and curriculum design to support mental wellbeing’ in early August. This Inclusive Education Community of Practice event was well timed as Victoria went into lockdown again. The panel, moderated by Dean of Students Lisa Hanna, included:

  • Karen Stuart, Manager Counselling & Psychological Support Services—on the Deakin Student Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy and what teaching and professional staff can do to help implement this
  • Kiernan Cleary, DUSA President—on his own experience and wider perspective of students’ mental health stresses, particularly at the moment
  • Sally Buchanan-Hagen, Lecturer in Nursing—giving a ‘consumer advocate’ perspective of mental health and wellbeing as a student and staff member
  • Tegan Whitten, DUSA Accessibility and Services Representative, Geelong—on her lived experience of mental health conditions and ways curriculum and teaching strategies help her to manage
  • Susie Macfarlane, Senior Lecturer, DLF Health Pod Manager—on curriculum design and teaching practice to support mental health and wellbeing.


Karen Stuart started by introducing the new Deakin Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, outlining its whole-of-university, inclusive, proactive, evidence-based and student-centred approach and implementation plan. She also gave her perspective as a counsellor on the increasing mental health risks students are coping with under COVID-19 conditions.

Attendees heard moving accounts from the two students on the difficulties they and other students face, with or without pre-existing mental health conditions. The students, both DUSA executives, didn’t miss this opportunity to explain how teachers’ choices over curriculum could make a huge difference to their ability to cope and thrive.

Sally Buchanan-Hagen gave an equally moving and instructive account of her experience of significant mental health problems when she was a student. She explained how that experience now guides her practice as a Nursing lecturer.

Susie Macfarlane was the last speaker, drawing on her research as a psychologist and more recently as an academic and Deakin Learning Futures Health pod leader to provide a range of tips and strategies spanning inclusive curriculum, assessment, feedback and teamwork.

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