SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being

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School of Health Sciences

Our School of Health Sciences is making a significant contribution towards improving health outcomes and making meaningful change in people’s lives. Programmes and research meet the needs of modern healthcare and society. Undergraduate degrees are the Bachelor of Health Sciences and the Bachelor of Sport Coaching, and postgraduate degrees include Health Sciences, Sport Coaching, Counselling, Child and Family Psychology and Nursing.

Awards for COVID-19 Response

The 2020 New Zealand Prime Minister’s Science Prize was awarded to the Te Pūnaha Matatini (TPM) research centre for its COVID-19 response. TPM is a national collaborative team of academics and researchers. UC’s team members are mathematical modellers Professor Michael Plank and Associate Professor Alex James, data scientist Senior Lecturer Dr Giulio Dalla Riva, and UC graduate researchers Dr Rachelle Binny, Nic Steyn, and Dr Audrey Lustig. Their work was recognised for developing a series of mathematical models, analysing data and communicating the results to inform the New Zealand Government’s response to the global pandemic.

Central to their work has been predicting impacts on at-risk communities, including Māori and Pasifika populations. Professor Plank was also recently awarded the Australia and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ANZIAM) EO Tuck Medal for 2021 for outstanding research, expertise and distinguished service in the field of Applied Mathematics.

Nutrition and Mental Health

New Zealand Government reporting reveals increasing numbers of our adolescents struggle with mental health issues. In 2020, Professor Julia Rucklidge and her team commenced researching nutritional interventions that are effective in treating psychiatric/psychological illness. Professor Rucklidge is a UC Clinical Psychology academic and leader within our Child Well-being Research Institute. Professor Rucklidge explains: “There is a growing association between an individual’s poor diet and poor mental health. However, it is not always realistic to manipulate diet, particularly in teenagers. Research over a decade has demonstrated efficacy in using micronutrients to treat psychiatric symptoms, but we need to explore whether coupling this approach with technology can expand reach, reduce cost and be a more acceptable way to address mental health problems.”

Supporting our Pacific Island Neighbours

Our Biomedical minor programme was developed to respond to student enthusiasm and to increase diversity among students choosing to study Mechanical Engineering, such as female, Māori and Pasifika students. Its curriculum emphasises bioethics, sustainability and responsibility, specifically biomedical design for reuse and donation. Student projects focus on real world applications. In the summer of 2020, students went to Tonga to support the Ministry of Health, and created a much needed Assets Register to track consumables. Another project involved updating the Tongan nursing handbook on how to use, maintain, and repair common medical equipment. The project resulted in an increase of capabilities and independence of nursing staff who provide time-critical nursing to the Tongan people, and less workload pressure for the small number of technicians often called upon to demonstrate equipment use.

Our Well-being Implementation Plan

We recognise people are our greatest asset. Adopting the Te Pae Māhutonga well-being model, our Mahere Oranga | Well-being Implementation Plan (2020-2024) was introduced to enhance our capability for supporting the well-being of our students and staff. Through this structured programme, we want UC to be a place where individuals are empowered with the knowledge and resources they need to nurture their well-being. Ultimately, our goal is that the plan will lay the foundations for us to achieve our Strategic Vision objective: “By 2030 UC will be known for its focus on well-being.”

UC’s Pilot Well-being Supporter Programme

Mental health disorders are a significant cause of health loss for all New Zealanders. In 2020 we launched our pilot Kaihāpai Oranga | Wellbeing Supporter programme across Engineering and Science with the aim of promoting a culture that removes the stigma associated with mental distress and helping people to help themselves. The programme has a dedicated UC intranet site offering staff a raft of meaningful, supportive and encouraging resources. It also includes the contact details for our Kaihāpai Oranga 21 trained volunteers, comprising academic and professional staff, who offer other UC staff who reach out, the appropriate support, care and encouragement, in a safe and non-judgemental environment.

Healthcare on Campus

UC’s Health Centre offers a full range of General Practitioner services, including many self-help healthrelated resources, to keep students and staff healthy and well. The Centre can treat acute and chronic conditions and can help with preventative measures, for example flu vaccinations, health checks/screening, injuries, minor surgery, and dietary advice/support. Highly trained counsellors are also available to help with a range of problems like grief, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and homesickness. Health services are accessible either on campus or from the comfort of your own home, 24/7.