Should all Australian Universities introduce a course that teaches meditation and mindfulness to students?

Monash and Melbourne Universities are leading the way in mental health education after unveiling plans to introduce a course that focuses on personal wellbeing, meditation and prayer. 

The Contemplative Studies course will be available for students to study as an elective unit that will count towards their degree. It’s the type of idea that makes you wonder why it didn’t exist sooner, but would a course like this benefit students at other Universities too?

A study by the National Union of Students last year found that over half of Australian University students have experienced a decline in their  mental wellbeing since the beginning of the pandemic. Even in 2017, before the epidemic, the annual NUS survey revealed that close to 70 percent of University and TAFE students classed their mental health as fair to poor. 

And there are signs to show students would utilise a contemplative studies course if it was available to them with Australians under 25 making up almost one fifth of all people receiving Medicare-subsidised mental health support.

Psychology Professor at Macquarie University, Ron Rapee is excited by the potential benefits of such a course for University Students.

“Learning strategies like these are not a bad thing for any person to have as an extra part of their ability to deal with life’s general problems.” 

However Professor Rapee is cautious to make assumptions about the merit of a Contemplative Studies course before we can assess the results of the courses at Monash University and Melbourne University.

“Potentially it sounds like a program like this could be really useful but it really needs to be properly evaluated.”

Regardless of whether there’s a roll out of mindfulness courses across Australian Universities, the inclusion at Monash and Melbourne Universities marks an important step towards greater mental health support for students.