KUALA LUMPUR, 26.8.2021 – Universities and academic communities worldwide should provide mental health support to students as a means to help them cope with the losses and transitions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to World Health Organization, one in every four individuals will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. With that being said, the student population should receive equal consideration as the pandemic continues to bring drastic changes to their learning experience.
160 countries implemented nationwide closures in May 2020, as reported by UNESCO. This move had impacted more than 70% of the global student population, which affected their performance in university and quality of life.
As in-classroom teaching is gradually replaced with virtual learning, university students lose their opportunity to socially integrate into the academic world with little to no chance to interact with peers, friends, and professors. Hence, this deteriorates their mental health as well as their academic performance in university.
Higher education providers play a huge role in providing the extra support that students need. One of the effective ways, as suggested by Times Higher Education is to identify at-risk students and offer the necessary support and help that they need through virtual counselling.
Furthermore, student councils in universities can provide peer support – a form of help given by individuals who have personally experienced mental health issues and recovery.
The method is gaining popularity as it offers greater empowerment and engagement, which helps troubled students address their mental health and well-being issues comfortably. Hilary Jacobs Hendel, psychotherapist and author of It’s Not Always Depression supports the idea of providing peer support.
“There is a lot of value in sharing with people who have overcome similar mental health challenges,’ she commented.
ICEF Monitor recommends that all faculties in the university have a number of staff trained in basic mental first aid for students. This will help lecturers and staff identify students who are potentially facing mental health issues, as well as determining the appropriate measures to support them.
Additionally, universities can provide resources on their website and social media platforms to raise awareness about students’ mental health, which can help students identify the symptoms and seek help before their condition worsens.
As the mental health and well-being of students become worrisome in this dire time, universities should play their role in ensuring that they can receive the help and support they need to make the best out of their student life.
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