I attended two sessions about student wellbeing and it seemed to be a hot topic at the event. Bobbi Hartshorne from GSA (Global Student Accommodation) a company that provides housing for international university students (see their growth in Japan) for over 13,000 students. They are an extremely fast-growing company, but most importantly for me, they are becoming experts in student wellbeing in a boarding situation. They did a huge study on the impact of the environment (housing) on student wellbeing. The report found that the quality of accommodation plays a huge role in well being. It makes sense since they spend 67% of their time in the dormitories or apartments. They found that accommodation staff are the people best placed to identify wellbeing problems, even more so than teachers. Students in trouble often close the door and spend hours on the internet when they are lonely, depressed or anxious. Schools can counteract this by using common spaces in the dormitories better by making them more appealing, getting guest speakers to come and meet with students, and other activities to try to build community spirit and increase the human connections among boarding students. Bobbi mentioned the Warwick Edinburg Mental Wellbeing Scale which would give quantitative data to schools wanted to measure student wellbeing at their school.
She talked about today’s youth and general characteristics of the generation. At GSA, over 50% are multiracial, they are great at filtering information and value experience over luxury. The Varkey Foundation and GEMS Education did a big study and found that there is a movement of global homogenization and students around the world are more similar than previous generations.
Stephanie Hiltz & Julia Salema from Study Insured an international student insurance company gave a good talk on using technology to help the mental health of international students.
There were several apps that students can use to help improve mental health.
- Headspace – Meditation Made Simple
- Calm – The #1 app for Meditation and Sleep
- Pacifica – Reduce Stress – Feel Happier
- Moodpath – Your Mental Health Companion
- 7 Cups – Online therapy & counseling
These are apps that use game theory to also support mental health.
- Flowy – a game to help sufferers of panic attacks
- SuperBetter – a game to increase resiliance