Mental health is an important aspect of college life, but too often, it is neglected or overlooked. While students are ultimately responsible for their own mental health, faculty can play an important role in fostering a healthy, supportive environment. From creating a stigma-free atmosphere to restructuring classes to reduce stress, faculty can take a number of steps to be allies for their students' mental health. Here are five ways that faculty can support college student mental health.
There are many misconceptions surrounding mental health, and many of these lead to a stigma around mental health and disorders. By creating a stigma-free environment, faculty can foster an open culture of communication in which students feel comfortable discussing their mental health. Some steps to create a stigma-free environment include: - Teaching About Mental Health - Many students come to college without a full understanding of common mental health issues or helpful coping strategies. By including mental health content in your curriculum, you can help to educate your students and reduce stigma by normalizing mental health. - Supporting the Mental Health Curriculum - If your college has a mental health curriculum, support it by including it in your syllabi, following the suggested readings, and facilitating discussions. - Creating Safe Spaces for Student Expression - Whether it’s a designated “silent room” or a safe space for expression during a lecture, a safe space for students to share their mental health struggles can help to reduce stigma and create an open environment for discussion. - Promoting a Buddy System - Having a buddy system where students check in with each other on a regular basis can help to reduce isolation, while also giving students a chance to ask for help when they need it. - Showing Understanding and Respect - Any time a student discusses mental health, show understanding and respect by listening patiently and not jumping to conclusions.
College life can be stressful, and this stress can lead to mental health issues if it’s not managed properly. By restructuring your classes to reduce stress, you can help to foster a more supportive environment at your institution. Some ways to structure your classes to reduce stress include: - Offer Flexible Schedules and Locations - College students often have unpredictable schedules and obligations. By offering your classes at times that work for students’ schedules, and by offering alternative locations for certain courses, you can help to reduce stress by making your classes more accessible. - Offer Distance Education - Some students find that being on campus leads to increased stress. By offering distance education classes, you can make your course load accessible to a wider range of students. - Offer a Relaxation Break - Periods of silent meditation are proven to reduce stress. By offering a relaxation break at the end of each class, you can help students to focus during the rest of the class by reducing the stress of the previous class. - Offer Mental Health Hotlines - If a student seems particularly stressed, offer to make them aware of the mental health hotline available at their campus.
As a faculty member, you have access to a wide range of mental health resources that you can promote to your students. Some ways you can promote mental health resources include: - Promoting Counseling Services - Counseling services are one of the most important mental health resources on campus. By promoting these services, you can help to encourage students to seek help when they need it. - Promoting Access to Mood Trackers - Mood trackers are a simple way for students to keep track of their mental health over time. They can be especially helpful for students who are struggling but don’t know what to do about it. - Promoting Healthy Eating Options - Healthy eating is proven to have mental health benefits, such as reduced stress. By promoting healthy eating on campus, you can help to foster a healthier, more supportive environment.
Ensure that you check in with struggling students. By keeping an eye out for the warning signs of mental health issues, you can help to proactively support students who are struggling. Some ways to check in with struggling students include: - Create a Mental Health Culture - By fostering a culture where mental health is discussed openly and without judgement, you can encourage struggling students to seek help. - Attend Mental Health Workshops - Workshops are a great way to stay up to date on the latest mental health research and treatment methods. You can use this information to better inform your students. - Keep an Eye Out for Warning Signs - It can be difficult to tell when a student is struggling, but there are common warning signs that indicate mental health issues. By keeping an eye out for these warning signs, you can help to identify struggling students early and encourage them to seek help.
There are a number of habits that can promote mental health, including healthy eating and exercise. By encouraging healthy habits among your students, you can help to foster a healthier, more supportive environment. Some ways to encourage healthy habits among your students include: - Lead by Example - If you want your students to adopt healthy habits, you need to do it yourself. Lead healthy eating and exercise habits by eating healthy foods and exercising regularly yourself. - Promote Healthy Eating - Healthy eating is proven to benefit mental health. By promoting healthy eating in your classroom, you can help your students to adopt healthy habits. - Promote Exercising Regularly - Regular exercise is proven to have mental health benefits, such as reduced stress. By promoting regular exercise in your classroom, you can help your students to adopt healthy habits.
While universities should devote more resources to mental health, college instructors would be wise to prepare for the times when a student comes to them with suicidal thoughts, the onset of major depression, or the trauma of sexual assault. Instructors can also take proactive steps to address mental health in general, such as directing students to the resources they require before problems arise.
There are many schools/colleges around the world that have started including mental health in their curriculum to put emphasis on this persisting issue among the students. However, because of their lack of expertise, the programs are kind of lackluster. In such cases, schools/colleges need a trusted partner they can collaborate with and improve on their mental health programs to achieve quantitative results.
Peakmind has helped many institutions to develop a tailored mental health programs that has helped their students to better academically. If you also want to partner with us, visit the link https://www.peakmind.in/institutions