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The mental wellbeing of students has become a major topic within the higher education sector. A recent survey conducted by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) together with the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) showed relatively high levels of stress and anxiety among full-time undergraduates. There is a commitment within the sector to address this issue, with the standard approach being to direct students towards medical and student support services. However, the HEA is aware that (a) this is not always enough, and (b) academics and teaching staff in the classroom also want to help by playing their part. That led to the HEA setting up its Teach Well: Embedding Mental Wellbeing in the Curriculum one day workshop.
When it comes to retention, we know that a disproportionate number of students who drop out do so for ‘personal reasons’. While data held by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) does not provide more detail on what those ‘personal reasons’ are, our work with the sector, and data held within institutions suggests that many of those withdraw for reasons related to mental wellbeing.
The Teach Well: Embedding Mental Wellbeing in the Curriculum workshop enables lecturers, programme leaders and other interested parties to find out more about teaching and learning activities complementing those offered by student services, forming part of a broader ‘whole university’ approach to wellbeing and student retention. The HEA is distinctive in its approach to embedding solutions on mental wellbeing in and through the curriculum. These solutions are designed to benefit and improve outcomes for all students, not only those suffering from stress and anxiety.
“Mental wellbeing is a critical issue within the sector, something that increasing numbers of people within higher education are keen to address,” says Joan O’ Mahony, the HEA’s Academic Lead for Retention. “At the HEA we know that academics and teaching staff want to do their bit. This workshop enables them to do that by embedding solutions in and through the curriculum. The standard approach of directing students to student support services helps, but it’s not nearly enough.”
The workshop is designed to develop your confidence in dealing with key concepts around student wellbeing. It identifies the challenges associated with embedding wellbeing in the classroom, and considers how those challenges can be addressed. It explores practical approaches to promoting wellbeing in and through the curriculum. The workshop also familiarises those attending with the HEA’s wellbeing ‘toolkit’, exploring ways that it can be used and adapted for a range of purposes.
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The Teach Well: Embedding Mental Wellbeing in the Curriculum workshop is aimed at those who want to adopt a proactive approach to student wellbeing. That might include lecturers, programme leaders, discipline leaders or strategic directors looking to embrace an institution-wide approach to mental wellbeing.
The workshop will be led by Jenny Lawrence, HEA Expert Associate and Joan O’ Mahony, the HEA’s Academic Lead for Retention.