Proactively supporting students’ mental wellbeing: Guidelines and recommendations for staff and universities
Mental wellbeing is a teaching and learning issue; it is a support issue; it is a university cultural issue; it is everyone’s business!
During 2019–20, Dr Nicole Crawford conducted a major NCSEHE Equity Fellowship project, On the radar: Supporting the mental wellbeing of mature-aged students in regional and remote Australia. The research identified a variety of factors impacting students’ mental wellbeing, both within the context of their daily learning and interactions with their university course, curriculum, peers and staff, and outside of the university environment.
The Fellowship drew upon the experiences and insights of approximately 1,800 student survey participants and 51 interviewees. The student participants’ responses overwhelmingly focused on the importance of teaching and learning — that is, the need for “the basics” to be done well to support their learning and mental wellbeing. It is vital that mental wellbeing be taken seriously at all levels in universities and in all learning environments (on campus and online).
So, what can you do?
We do not have to be mental health experts to support students’ mental wellbeing. As a tutor or lecturer, librarian or learning skills advisor, it’s often our small actions that make a big difference.
To support you in taking a proactive approach as you prepare for the next university semester, a concise set of Guidelines for staff and Recommendations for universities have now been developed, informed by the Equity Fellowship.
While the target group for Nicole’s research was mature-aged university students in, and from, regional and remote Australia, the guidelines and recommendations are transferable to other groups. In fact, what we have learnt from the experiences of students in this diverse group can be applied to and benefit all students.