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Prioritizing Student Mental Health: The Impact of Proactive Support and Student-Driven Metrics

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Why Mental Health Matters

While May marks the end of another term and the exciting start of commencement ceremonies, May also brings along much-needed awareness to an important cause in Higher Ed, Mental Health Awareness Month.

According to CNN, a fall 2021 survey by the Healthy Minds Network reported that 1 in 7 college students across the country stated that they had suicidal ideation. Keeping this in mind, as students entered the spring term, did we check-in to see how they felt about the start of a new term? Did we proactively check-in to gauge how students felt about their health and wellness? Gaining a new and better understanding of our student's needs starts by thinking about new approaches.

We believe there's no better way than going straight to the source and asking students how they feel directly. As part of our check-ins, we measure health and wellness to gain a better understanding of exactly how they're feeling throughout the term. Collecting this data has allowed us to experience the significant impact that health and wellness have on persistence and whether or not a student will return the following term.

How Proactive Support Generates Student-Driven Metrics

At EdSights, we support over one million students nationwide, and we're here to share the impact that listening to those students' voices has made, and what those metrics can look like on your campus.

At the start of the spring term, we checked-in with over 40,000 students and asked one simple question:

"How are you feeling about the start of a term?" Here's how students responded:

We then followed up and asked what specific areas students felt that they were struggling in which allowed us to provide targeted resources and support. Here's what students said overall:

We further uncovered that students within specific groups and demographics provided even deeper insights into the challenges that they each face.

  • More than 58% of Asian or Pacific Islander students felt neutral or nervous about starting the spring term

  • Less than 45% of first-gen students felt excited to start the spring term

  • Less than 45% of female students felt excited to start the spring term

How Following Up Unlocks Deeper Insights

Once students settled into the spring term, we checked-in with over 7,000 students to see how they felt about their overall health and wellness. Here's how they responded:

To effectively leverage and act upon the data collected from our wellness check-in, again, we must further understand exactly what areas students feel they are struggling in:

What we learned from different groups and demographics from this check-in was:

  • More than 56% of student-athletes were struggling with mental health

  • More than 50% of on-campus students were struggling with mental health

  • Male students were more likely to struggle with mental health than female students

What This Data Tells Us

When students feel poorly about their mental health or feel overwhelmed about the start of a new term, their ability to persist is jeopardized. Checking in with your students directly and listening to their voices unlocks insights and understandings that were traditionally difficult to collect let alone leverage and act upon in Higher Ed.

While May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month, proactively checking in with your students throughout the term allows you to deliver unparalleled support and resources, and in turn, provide your students with the tools and confidence they need in order to persist.

Stay tuned next week as we share the large impact that check-ins throughout different terms has on persistence!



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