Balancing academic ambitions, social life and mental health
Students today face a demanding academic environment in a time of rapidly changing circumstances and an increasingly competitive and technologically integrated world. Impressive academic performances, a blossoming social life, managing a budget around tuition and living costs and building a strong cv – these are all goals and concerns that students are dealing with and can lead to worrying health concerns. In an age of being constantly connected and exposed online through social media, a growing number of university students are reporting feelings of isolation and loneliness. These challenges appear to be magnified for international students as they deal with cultural and language barriers, and transitional obstacles in an unknown academic environment.
This interactive training offers practical tools and guidance to those that are working with and for students, in daily operations of student accommodation, but also managing international students at universities. How can housing officers, student life officers, international officers and housing providers adequately respond to these newly emerging challenges and best serve a diversifying student population? We explore the keys to addressing mental health issues among students, from a policy perspective to real-life practical insights. We seek to inspire an open dialogue between speakers and the audience in addressing the most pressing issues relating to the student residence life experience and in paving new ways forward in this growing field.
Six Top Learnings
- Mental health issues among students are not a trend or a fad. Growing pressure on study results and tuition from one’s social environment plus an increased fear of missing out personally, in addition to more knowledge, experience and insights are pushing the current shift in attention and expression of mental health challenges amongst students.
- Creating a culture of social embeddedness and openness is key to identifying mental health issues on time.
- Sometimes it is important to take a step back and fulfil a facilitating role in order to encourage student self-agency, self-reliance and resilience.
- To identify mental health problems, it is important to sense signallers: absence, not reachable by phone, not paying rent can help housing providers in addition to updates and concerns from parents and fellow students.
- Those working with students on a day-to-day basis need to consider cultural difference when it comes to the level and frequency of services and assistance offered. Self-reliance, resilience and the need for independence varies across countries and student populations.
- Accommodation providers are in a unique position to take pro-active steps in creating a supportive environment where inclusion and interaction are made easy, while encouraging independence and self-reliance.