The social, physical and virtual environments for student life and academic engagement play a significant part in promoting or undermining student mental health and wellbeing.
Empirical studies have identified social isolation from other students and lack of a sense of belonging to the institution as strongly associated with mental health difficulties. It is essential to create social, physical and digital environments that are strongly inclusive, promote respectful interactions and relationships, and meet people’s daily needs.
Core activities (to undertake in the first year):
- Providing cohesive, engaging extra-curricular and curricular activities that foster a sense of belonging for students from diverse backgrounds
- Auditing and enhancing physical spaces to ensure access to appropriate spaces for private study, social interaction, and relaxation activities
- Building partnerships with student societies and student groups at risk of isolation or discrimination – eg BAME students; students with disabilities; international students; LGBTQ students; student carers; care leavers; estranged students and mature students
- Additional activities may include:
Auditing and enhancing student facilities to ensure access to: healthy food options; bicycle storage and sporting facilities
- Engaging students in the co-creation of a ‘code of conduct’ on respectful communications and appropriate use of information and communication technologies in a university environment, underpinned by institutional values that promote inclusion and diversity
- Ensuring all students are aware of policies to address discrimination, bullying and harassment and of complaint processes for redressing offensive, intimidating or discriminatory behaviour
Possible indicators of progress for institutional self-monitoring:
- Proportion of students who report a sense of belonging to the university community
- Proportion of students participating in extra-curricular group activities
- Ratio of quiet spaces for private study. Physical spaces for collaborative learning and social interaction, and facilities (e.g. bicycle storage) to (on-campus) student population
- Visible presence (e.g. office space, web presence) of student liaison officers for student equity groups – BAME, LGBTQ, mature age, students with disabilities, international students.
- Proportion of students who have actively engaged with resources (e.g. by completing online training module) on appropriate and respectful use of information and communication technologies
- Proportion of students who have actively engaged with resources(e.g. by completing online training module) on anti-discrimination policies and complaint processes for redressing offensive, intimidating or discriminatory behaviour
- Proportion of students using sporting and recreation facilities