Academic institutions must find new ways to support students
Mental health issues have reached a crisis point on campus. Schools must look beyond traditional counseling services to help students and faculty.
Crisis on campus
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the state of mental health on campuses has reached crisis levels. While students have always felt academic and social pressures, I’d venture to say that additional stresses including lockdowns, remote learning and social isolation have been piled onto existing burdens and pushed anxieties to the next level.
And it’s not just the kids. “Mental health issues are affecting students of all ages , as well as parents and teachers.” This downward trend is also affecting students’ ability to complete their studies. Research suggests, “Students who struggle with mental health issues are twice as likely to drop out compared to other students. And many identify mental health issues as one of the reasons for discontinuing their studies. Perhaps, even worse than dropping out is the potential for harm to one’s self or others, as we’ve seen in Singapore for example, where mental health issues pushed a student to extreme violence on campus.
A worldwide reality
Globally, it’s no better. In a recent 10-country survey, “76 percent of students indicated that maintaining their wellbeing is a top challenge.” As well, in several regions around the world, the number of students with self-diagnosed anxiety and depression has reached an all-time high. For example:
• In Europe, 70 percent of heads of Universities say students’ mental health is their top concern
• In Australia, 93 percent of international students who were stranded overseas during the health crisis experienced significant mental health issues
• Throughout a number of Asian countries, the majority of the online population reported the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health
The severity, urgency and global nature of this situation is forcing academic institutions to think outside the box, to look for solutions beyond traditional counselling to help students and faculty address the reality of today’s campus life.
New ways to support students
Digital technologies that are easy to access and easy-to-use anywhere, anytime, whether students are on-campus, remote or some combination thereof, are required. They will provide the foundation to deliver the comprehensive support services students need to enjoy better mental health and personal safety throughout their academic experience.
With the right strategy and solutions, these technologies can provide an ecosystem for mental wellness that opens new opportunities to:
• Create a more supportive and nurturing environment where students feel heard and understood
• Connect to campus life and other students
• Enable faculty to proactively reach out to students to interact with them, encourage participation and identify those struggling academically and personally
• Provide awareness of, and access to, resources to address food and housing issues
• Help students feel their personal safety is protected
• Accelerate awareness of, and responses to, emergencies
Less stress means less illness and less time away from studies. The positive experiences and strong connections enabled by digital technologies and student-centric advocacy services provide the nurturing environment required for successful outcomes. A strong support system that gives students a better chance of staying in school means they can obtain their degree and get the job of their dreams.
Check out our recent whitepaper focused on mental health on campus or learn more about how ALE education solutions are helping institutions find new ways to address today’s wellness challenges.
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