Student and staff wellbeing in higher education

From fixes to foresight: Jisc and Emerge Education insights for universities and startups.

Student and staff wellbeing report front cover

The topic of mental wellbeing and a widening perception of declining mental health among students and staff has been moving up the higher education agenda in recent years. The pandemic, together with its unsettling, often anxiety-provoking transformation of the university experience, has exacerbated the issue. However, worsening trends and the need to act have been visible for some time.

About the report

In this report we reflect the broadly accepted need for a fundamental realignment of the way mental health and wellbeing are seen and approached, and we examine how innovation and technology, brought to the fore in the era of the lockdown, can bring that realignment into being.

In part one, we see how student and staff mental wellbeing is undergoing reassessment, particularly in the wake of COVID. 

Part two examines how technology is being used in implementing new approaches. As universities moved swiftly online last year so did their wellbeing services, often revealing that digital might promise effective long-term as well as immediate answers.

In part three we move to practical recommendations. We set out four principles for mental wellbeing in higher education, provide a wellbeing technology checklist for universities and, finally, offer advice for founders.

Four principles for wellbeing in HE

Wellbeing is for everybody: a whole population approach 
We are all affected by our mental wellbeing and that of others

Wellbeing is a lifelong project: a whole life approach 
Wellbeing doesn’t start when someone becomes an undergraduate and stop when they graduate. It needs lifelong learning and lifelong skills development to build resilience

Wellbeing is embedded in all activities: a whole curriculum approach 
Universities are health organisations as well as learning organisations. For individuals to thrive and learn, health gain cannot be separated from learning gain

Wellbeing is a collective endeavour: a whole university approach 
The whole-university approach values the contribution of all. It moves mental wellbeing away from being the sole concern of student health and mental health support services and involves the entire community. This takes sustained effort and leadership

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About this series of reports

This report is part of a series from Jisc and Emerge Education examining the most urgent priorities to be faced by university senior leaders over the next three years. They explore how edtech startups may provide the innovation and agility needed to navigate these rapidly changing times and build a future-resilient higher education sector.

Other reports in the series include:

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