As mentioned in earlier blogs, ensuring the wellbeing of students is (and rightfully should be) a top priority for many universities in Europe. In fact, a survey conducted by the European Students' Union indicated that 87% of students believe that mental health services at their university are important. But how exactly can universities ensure they are really tackling the problem at the core? We’ve identified five of our favorites:
- Providing online resources: almost all universities have mental health counselors available for students to meet with confidentially. However, more and more universities have also started expanding their offering to online resources, such as mindfulness exercises and stress-reducing techniques. Although some universities build these online resources themselves, there are ample tools and platforms already available that are much more economical and effective.
- Offering support for physical health: the focus for many universities lies on mental wellbeing, but we mustn’t forget that mental health is often boosted by physical wellbeing. Offering cheap subscriptions for the campus gym, increasing the number of sports classes and providing more healthy, affordable meals on campus can make a huge impact.
- Encouraging a healthy work-life balance: historically, universities have been more focussed on academic performance, but in recent years there has been a massive transition. For instance, at the Erasmus University there has been a movement from ‘study success’ to ‘student success’. Offering more flexible course schedules and encouraging students to take breaks and engage in extracurricular activities can be instrumental in boosting student wellbeing. A study conducted by the European Association for International Education found that 44% of students reported feeling overwhelmed by their workload.
- Promoting a sense of community: universities are likely to have a variety of student organizations and clubs that allow students to connect with others who share similar interests. Encouraging students to join a club or organization can help them develop the support network they need to, among others, reduce the likelihood of loneliness.
- Providing more resources for academic success: successfully transitioning from high-school to university can be a major challenge. Whereas students are typically offered all types of personal support in high-school (e.g. much smaller classes), they are often left on their own once they become a student (e.g. sitting in a lecture hall with 500+ students). Offering additional (and affordable) services such as tutoring services, writing centers, and study groups helps students make this transition more smoothly.
All in all, there is not just one way to develop a healthy campus. Instead, boosting student wellbeing requires offering lots of different services and reaching students in the right way to communicate these services (which is often even harder).