Mental health and wellbeing

Broccoli and birdsong: the shifty discourse of ‘staff well-being’

Submitted by Eliza.Compton on Mon, 20/09/2021 - 21:01
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I am pretty confident that the most frequently “deleted unread” all-staff emails at the moment are those titled “Well-being”. For the past two years, across all sectors, including higher education, these messages have proliferated like the coronavirus itself. Advice includes reminders to eat broccoli, to exercise regularly and to listen to birdsong. The latest epistle I received delivered the shattering news that “not being physically active can increase our risk of developing heart or circulatory diseases and diabetes”.

Standfirst
When institutions put responsibility for wellness onto individuals, they also deflect their role in staff burnout and mental ill health, writes Madeleine Davies
Teaser
When institutions put responsibility for wellness onto individuals, they also deflect their role in staff burnout and mental ill health, writes Madeleine Davies

Enhance your research through public engagement and collaboration

Submitted by miranda.prynne on Thu, 16/09/2021 - 09:30
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We all understand the value of collaboration. New experiences and perspectives from colleagues and students help to challenge our ways of thinking, driving us to create and share knowledge in more impactful ways. But collaborating with people outside your university sphere can add equal, and perhaps even more, value.

Public engagement spans activities from inspiring audiences through talks, exhibitions or festivals; consulting through surveys, focus groups or citizen juries; or shared decision-making and working with the public as partners.

Standfirst
Emily Burns outlines the key considerations for shaping research around mutually beneficial public engagement and collaboration
Teaser
Emily Burns outlines the key considerations for shaping research around mutually beneficial public engagement and collaboration

Taking the shock out of culture shock: helping international students navigate transitions, part one

Submitted by miranda.prynne on Fri, 10/09/2021 - 09:30
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Leaving home and moving to a new country on your own is a big step for anyone. Studying abroad is something students often plan and look forward to for years; nevertheless, many are surprised when they experience culture shock for the first time. The differences in how people speak, eat, work and socialise can be overwhelming, and it is reassuring to know this experience is completely normal and temporary.

Standfirst
Inga Ackermann outlines what steps institutions can take to prepare international students for the potential culture shock they may experience on arrival at their new university
Teaser
Inga Ackermann outlines what steps institutions can take to prepare international students for the potential culture shock they may experience on arrival at their new university

Mental health support for international students: five key steps

Submitted by miranda.prynne on Tue, 07/09/2021 - 08:00
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Long before the pandemic highlighted the vulnerabilities within higher education, foresighted university leaders had started to see value in improving the psychological well-being of foreign students. Struggling with unique stressors such as language barriers, perceived discrimination, acculturation stress and untreated mental health issues, international students have always been vulnerable.

Standfirst
Frank Haber explains what support mechanisms universities must put in place to protect international students’ mental health
Teaser
Frank Haber explains what support mechanisms universities must put in place to protect international students’ mental health

Building a community of support for remote students through academic advising

Submitted by miranda.prynne on Mon, 06/09/2021 - 09:00
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This past year has emphasised the value of community. In higher education, many students and instructors struggled with a sense of isolation from their peers and colleagues when institutions adopted remote and virtual settings at the start of the pandemic. While academic advisers are not often in the spotlight, they play a vital role in bridging the gap between student and institution and in helping students feel part of a broader learning community. Feeling connected – that is, being “seen” and “heard” – is critical to student success.

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Janet Morrison details academic advising strategies that keep students feeling connected and supported throughout their educational journeys when learning online
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Janet Morrison details academic advising strategies that keep students feeling connected and supported throughout their educational journeys when learning online

Ready, player one? How video games can help engage students

Submitted by Eliza.Compton on Fri, 03/09/2021 - 09:01
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Play is a fundamental way in which we learn. Long before children encounter formal educational methods, they play, learning new skills and behaviours along the way.

As a formalised style of play, games are well suited to education. They are inherently engaging and have built-in reward structures and variable levels of difficulty. Furthermore, many games encourage cooperation, group work and the development of communication and problem-solving skills. For these reasons, games are used extensively in early years education.

Standfirst
Engaging, rewarding and a great way to encourage active participation, games are a brilliant addition to a teaching and learning environment, says Chris Headleand
Teaser
Engaging, rewarding and a great way to encourage active participation, games are a brilliant addition to a teaching and learning environment, says Chris Headleand

Early career researchers can say no, too

Submitted by dene.mullen on Fri, 27/08/2021 - 09:00
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Saying no is a difficult academic skill − and one that shows maturity. A previous dean of mine used to ask the same question in every promotion interview to join the professorial level: “Can you name one thing to which have you said ‘no’ lately?” But academics and researchers should not wait until this point in their careers to start practising this mystical art form.

Standfirst
Coming up with a series of questions for ECRs about each ‘opportunity’ as it arises can help them decide what is worthy of their time, says Lucas Lixinski
Teaser
Coming up with a series of questions for ECRs about each ‘opportunity’ as it arises can help them decide what is worthy of their time, says Lucas Lixinski

A pedagogy of kindness: the cornerstone for student learning and wellness

Submitted by miranda.prynne on Fri, 20/08/2021 - 09:00
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When a home is constructed from stone, the cornerstone is the first stone to be laid. It orients the placement of all that follows. It can’t be added on later. The same is true of a pedagogy of kindness. It can’t be a checklist that is pasted over a syllabus that already exists – it needs to be foundational to course design and central to an instructor’s teaching practice.

Standfirst
Fiona Rawle outlines a pedagogy founded on human connection, care and compassion that improves student learning outcomes
Teaser
Fiona Rawle outlines a pedagogy founded on human connection, care and compassion that improves student learning outcomes

We must help our students make this a ‘summer of self-love’

Submitted by dene.mullen on Fri, 06/08/2021 - 01:01
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Most people spent the first 500 days of the coronavirus pandemic on activities rather different from those they’d originally intended. But with something approaching an end in sight (in the wealthy West, at least) thanks to vaccination programmes, we might expect people’s activities to become increasingly “normal”.

Standfirst
It would be wise to keep an eye on our students over the coming months, as the period after lockdown typically brings intense emotional responses, says Bertus Jeronimus
Teaser
It would be wise to keep an eye on our students over the coming months, as the period after lockdown typically brings intense emotional responses, says Bertus Jeronimus

Scaling up student support services

Submitted by miranda.prynne on Fri, 23/07/2021 - 14:30
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The time a student spends at university is often a transformative period of their life.

For most, it is the start of a journey that will lead them to expand their horizons, develop new skills and, hopefully, embark on their desired career. It is a period of self-learning, where students can equip themselves with soft skills that will enable them to thrive throughout life – professionally and personally.

Standfirst
Suzanne Mitchell advises on how to scale up student support services, using technology that provides multiple communications channels and early warning systems to assist specialist staff teams
Teaser
Suzanne Mitchell advises on how to scale up student support services, using technology that provides multiple communications channels and early warning systems to assist specialist staff teams