The pandemic has been hard on everyone, especially students. Not only were schools concerned about student safety on campus, but another major concern at the forefront was also around the mental health and well-being of students. With most students going fully or hybrid remote learning this past year, this approach isolated students away from their typical social interactions with their classmates, faculty, and campus. In a recent report, 58% of students reported feeling signs of distress more than usual.
From feeling unhappy, depressed, or losing sleep over worrying, students are experiencing many more challenges when it comes to maintaining their well-being. In fact, according to a recent Salesforce student report, 75% of students said that maintaining their well-being is a top challenge.
With that in mind and as the new school year quickly approaches, more students will be attending classes in-person and activities regularly, and it should be the universities top priority to help students make positive steps to maintain and improve student mental health. Here are eight strategies to make student well-being a top initiative and accessible this school year with the help of your campus portal:
1. Make it Known: Promote Mental Health Resources with Resource Guides
Does your university offer a variety of existing mental health and counseling services? Make sure students can easily locate them with an extensive resource guide. Whether you have a dedicated center (take advantage of a virtual map to show them exactly where it is, this will be extremely helpful for incoming students), or you have virtual services, provide all the contact information and details into one easily accessible guide that students can share and refer to when necessary.
2. Keep Communication Open: Provide Real-time Student Messaging
Students understand what their peers are going through and can offer genuine support. Empowering them with messaging chat channels gives them the ability to find other classmates who might be feeling the same way or can offer guidance and connection when they need it most.
3. Be Innovative: Develop Campus Initiatives and Campaigns that Stretch Online
You don’t have to wait until May to organize a mental health awareness month initiative, encourage your departments or student organizations to host campus initiatives and campaigns throughout the school year to proactively check on your students and empower them to prioritize their well-being. For your campus portal design digital flyers and share in posts and channels online to bolster student participation and drive awareness.
4. Encourage Engagement: Publicize Events and Activities Through Integrated Comprehensive Calendars
While planning your initiatives, don’t forget to include activities and events centralized on improving the mental health of your students. Whether that entails a wellness scavenger hunt, a meditation, or a workshop on how to manage stress, make sure to integrate the variety of activities going on campus-wide in one dynamic calendar. By adding filters and categorizing each one, students can decipher which events best suit them.
5. Always Available: Extend Advisory Reach Virtually
Students rely on peer-to-peer communication, but also seek advice from faculty and advisors as well. Through a campus portal, create a real-time communication pathway for students to connect with their teachers, mentors, administrators, and advisors. Rather than locating an email address or being limited by office hours, make it easier to connect with faculty and offer flexibility when it comes to time.
6. Stay Open-Minded: Collaborate with Students and Ask for Feedback with Polls
Gather and brainstorm more ideas about how to help your students by leveraging the power of polls. Who better to seek advice from than students themselves? Ask a question, such as what resources would you like to see added this semester or what activities you’d like for the mental health task force to host? Collect ideas from the top votes and plan initiatives and activities based on what they gravitate toward.
7. Don’t Forget Your Key Players: Make Faculty and Staff a Priority
In addition to universities training faculty and staff to build an inclusive campus environment for students, it’s critical not to forget about your faculty and staff’s well-being as well. Foster a supportive online community for your higher ed leaders to connect. Designate spaces for them to share resources, converse over similar interests, even share fun memes, videos, or gifs, just for fun.
8. Reminders Are Essential: Make Sure Students Never Miss Anything of Importance with Push Notifications
All of these ideas can go a long way, but make sure your students are aware of all the initiatives you’re putting together just for them. With push notifications and email reminders, students won’t miss any of these upcoming opportunities.