batyr partners with nib to improve the wellbeing of international students


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batyr partners with nib to improve the wellbeing of international students

November 24, 2020


batyr has partnered with nib foundation to improve the mental wellbeing of international students in Australia.

The $110,000 grant from the foundation is part of nib foundation’s $1 million commitment to the COVID-19 response and recovery (focused on mental health support) and will allow batyr to deliver its engaging [email protected] programs to international students and the student communities that surround them.

We know that international students face a unique set of challenges while studying abroad, including the separation from loved ones and support networks, adapting to new cultures, languages and financial pressures. These challenges have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“2020 has been a challenging year for international students and for the university sector more broadly. These tailored programs will provide this community with a safe and supportive environment to be able to reconnect and start talking with their peers about mental health and the challenges they’re facing,” batyr CEO Nic Brown said.

“The wellbeing of international students needs to be a key focus for universities as they are a high risk group for suicide and mental health issues. Through these programs we aim to smash the stigma surrounding mental health, which is a barrier to starting life-changing conversations, and can be heightened for young people of certain culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.”

“With numbers of enrolments for international students dropping due to the impact of COVID-19, we also hope our work will give these students a better understanding of ways to manage increased stress and the support services available, helping to ensure that those students who do enrol, stay enrolled and are supported to be mentally healthy during their studies.”

nib foundation Executive Officer Amy Tribe said the partnership with batyr ensures the mental health and wellbeing of our international students is better protected as they navigate the extra pressures presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been a tough year for our students as they’ve had to adapt to a new way of learning while navigating COVID-19 restrictions. For those living away from their home country, this is especially tough, with restrictions making it harder to make those informal social connections and build those support networks that you often find at university,” Mrs Tribe said.

“We support international students with nib health insurance, so it’s only fitting that nib foundation has partnered with batyr. Our funding will help batyr to deliver both online and in-person mental health education programs, speaker development workshops as well as the training of additional mental health facilitators  to deliver these engaging programs to international students, so they better understand the support available to them to keep on top of their mental health and wellbeing,” Mrs Tribe added.

Why does the mental health of international students need targeted support?

It’s been found that around 83.9% of international students experience elevated psychological distress but only 34.3% will engage in help-seeking behaviours [1].

At the extreme end, the effect of low help-seeking among international students is underscored in a 2019 Coroners Prevention Unit (CPU) study which investigated the suicide deaths of 27 international students between 2009 and 2015. It compared these deaths to a cohort of suicides among Australian-born students, to explore what might be distinctive about the deaths.

The study found that only 14.8% of the international-born students who died by suicide  had been diagnosed mental ill-health compared to 66.7% of the Australian-born students. Only 22.2% of the international student suicide cohort attended a health service for a mental health related issue within six weeks of death, compared to 57.1% of the Australian-born student suicide cohort.

Coupled with the fact that there were a total of 398.563 international student enrolments in Australia in 2018, making up 30.7% of the university population, it’s crucial that mental health education at the tertiary level and target towards the international student community [2]. 

How will batyr engage with international students?

The nib foundation grant will see the roll out of the following batyr programs:

  • 22 [email protected] programs: 60-90 minute educational mental health programs designed to reduce mental health stigma, promote mental health literacy, provide education about culturally-appropriate support services, foster informal community care networks and empower students to reach out for support when they need it.
  • Being Herd international student speaker training: Workshop-style training with a group of 7-10 international students aged 18-30 who learn how to share their experiences of mental ill-health safely and effectively with their peers. In doing so, they encourage their peers to start important conversations and reach out for support when they need it. For students who are unable to attend the workshops, batyr will provide one on one training and speaker development.
  • Facilitator training: Training needed to recruit and train program delivery facilitators.

This project roll out comes off the back of the launch of a new batyr international student program, developed in partnership with Meld Community, with funding support from the VIC Government (through Study Melbourne), and co-designed with international students.

batyr have also engaged in ongoing, multi-year collaborations with international mental health organisations such as Samos Bravo (Mexico) and KELY (Hong Kong) to ensure cultural adaption and increased impact for international students that attend our [email protected] programs. 

The programs will educate students on how to break down these barriers and make more clear and accessible pathways to further support if required.

In the interest of inclusivity and community-building, the programs will be open to both international and non-international students, as well as students of all genders and ages.

This will be integral to building an educated, empathetic and inclusive university-wide community, which is necessary to increase the likelihood of international students experiencing support from peers, and reducing the level of stigmatised attitudes towards mental ill-health. 

batyr delivered the first of its international student programs to a cohort of design students at University of Technology Sydney in October. One of the students said they liked how the program made it “interesting and positive to talk about mental health” and didn’t “make it sound necessarily scary.”

These programs will be delivered to other universities that batyr has partnerships with in NSW, VIC, ACT, SA and QLD.

“With the support of nib foundation, we’re able to reach and empower international students to proactively take charge of their mental health, and create a stronger and more resilient community,” Nic said.

Check out [email protected] to find out more about our programs for tertiary students, and to request a program at your university or tertiary institution.

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  1. Stallman, H., & Shochet, I. A. N. (2009). Prevalence of mental health problems in Australian university health services. Australian Psychologist, 44(2), 122–127. doi:10.1080/00050060902733727
  2. International student enrolments in Australia 1994-2018, Department of Skills, Education and Employment,