10 Things I learned for Improving Student Well-being on Campus.
On March 11th and 12th, 2016 campus stakeholders from across British Columbia came together to advance collective action on campus mental health and substance use. Through this summit I had the opportunity to engage in multiple discussions, lectures, and presentations from these stakeholders, each bringing a unique set of experiences and ideas to the table. Here is my list of the most impactful ideas I encountered during my time at the summit:
- Help faculty members to identify concerns with students and respond and refer in appropriate ways. – All faculty members should have the tools, knowledge, and willingness to support student wellbeing.
- Embed student mental health and well-being considerations into existing initiatives and policies. – Education is simply not enough, the role of a post secondary institution should include student wellbeing.
- Build partnerships with on-campus champions (leaders). – Student leaders can champion faculty initiatives (or vice versa!), and through this partnership culture and policy change can be implemented.
- Faculty well-being also needs to be supported. We need to look at everyone on campus. – If faculty members are not in a place of wellness, they will be unable to provide support to their students. All personnel on campuses should be supported in their wellness.
- E-counselling! The provision of psychological services using telecommunication technologies. Can augment traditional in-person services or be used as stand-alone services. Can also increase options for students that study in rural campuses or from home.
- Give students the chance to learn and demonstrate how to use alcohol responsibly. – A zero tolerance policy does not promote healthy substance use. Instead provide students with the education and tools necessary to make healthy decisions regarding substance use.
- Principles of good dialogue: 1) Be aware of our own ideas and reflect on them; 2) Listen to each other’s ideas; 3) Try to deepen our understanding of each other’s ideas. – Engage in conversation as equals, no one is an expert and everyone has important and valued thoughts and experiences.
- Increase training of staff and availability of programs to support victims of sexual violence. – Programs should be designed to ensure the victim/survivor is safe and accommodated on campus.
- Indigenizing campus communities. – Create opportunities for students to feel connected and feel part of the campus community, and have access to elders who can support them.
- A comprehensive campus mental health strategy needs to go further than sending struggling students to counseling services. Academic systems and student services need to work together.