Wellbeing and Mental Health Support Should be Available to University Students
For every individual, social, economic, mental, and physical health are vital elements of their overall life quality. As reported by the World Health Organization (2001), one in every four individuals will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their lives, with 450 million people worldwide suffering at any one time.
Special consideration should be paid to our student population as we continue to experience challenges brought about by the pandemic.
The mental health and welling of all students across Europe is a serious, growing concern that we have to address. Usually, students can frequently interact with peers, friends, and professors. When “contact teaching” practice was replaced with virtual learning, their ability to socially integrate into the academic world was lost. This has adversely affected their quality of life and wellbeing. In May 2020, UNESCO reported that more than 160 countries implemented nationwide closures, which impacted over 70% of the world’s student population.
The idea that quality of life adds intrinsic value associated with high academic outcomes isn’t new. There have been many research projects and evidence confirming the positive connections between quality of life and academic achievement. The most recent studies have discussed the importance of students’ mental health and the appropriate measures to be taken to improve learning outcomes. In an older study by Ainley (1991), it was also suggested that students’ quality of life is directly related to their academic achievement. Quality of life evaluation will depend on the subjective perception of every single individual, but we already know it has a huge impact on other areas of human life.
How we talk about mental health and wellbeing in post-Covid society will also change. Students may be more proactive about finding appropriate help to ensure their own wellbeing. In order to fight the negative impacts of the pandemic, we need to make sure that students have a free and easily accessible mental health support platform built to cope with the losses and transitions of the past year. Putting the focus on good mental health practices from counseling opportunities, building trust between professors and students, and many other factors should be the focus for universities and the global academic community.
Universities should work towards opening a student wellbeing service that will offer help and guidance to students when they are experiencing different challenges, or are in need of some extra support. Wellbeing advisers should work with academic tutors and other university staff to plan for and address any personal and emotional difficulties students might experience, ensuring that students can focus on their academic work without pressure.
Peer-to-peer support also has a role in helping students to address mental health and wellbeing issues. Student councils should encourage the development of a peer support scheme that will enable students to talk confidentially to a fellow student about anything that is troubling them.
Providing student-led, confidential assistance creates a space for students to be reassured that others are experiencing the same things.
Thirdly, students should be encouraged to practice self-help by making resources and materials available on LMS platforms that can be accessed by anyone at any time.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the issues of mental health and the wellbeing of students have become an increasingly prevalent theme in research studies. Although many European universities already have specific assistance and counseling mechanisms for students in need, we have to continue to thoroughly and continuously emphasize the importance of promoting the mental health and general wellbeing of students in academia. Processes involving changes and improvements in the current situation are still in their infancy, and their full implementation will surely take several more years.
Ainley, J., Foreman, J., & & Sheret, M. (1991). High school factors that influence students to remain in school. The Journal of Educational Research, pp. 69-80. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/00220671.1991.10702816
UNESCO. (2020, May). COVID-19 educational disruption and response. Retrieved from https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-emergencies/coronavirus-school-closures
World Health Organization. (2001). The world health report 2001 – Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope. Geneva: WHO: Mental Health.
For more updates, follow us!