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P07: Mental Wellness in Classroom Panel: How can we help?
Kim Johnston, Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Agnes D’Entremont, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Peter Ostafichuk, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Juan Abello, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Melissa Boyce, Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Mental Wellbeing of university students is increasingly becoming an important topic to discuss. According to student surveys, a majority of university students report feeling overwhelmed, sad, anxious and lonely. This information brings up the question; What can we, as course instructors, do to positively impact student wellbeing on campus? While we acknowledge this is a very complex topic, each of the panelists and facilitator in this session have developed one or more initiatives to support student wellbeing. In this session, we will describe our initiatives and discuss their successes and challenges. We will invite questions and discussions from our audience members. We hope that this session inspires others with ideas to bring back to their home institutions.
The facilitator and panelists of this session have extensive experience teaching undergraduate students. As course instructors, we have found it uncomfortably common to hear student concerns relating to managing stress and the workload, and even occasionally sharing with us their suicidal thoughts. While many of the students know that there are mental wellness supports in place, they are not well utilized – survey responses from students at one of our institution indicate that only 8% of students have accessed the available campus mental wellbeing resources.
In this panel, we will discuss perspectives on engineering student mental wellness across several different programs at two Canadian universities. Each panelist has developed one or more initiatives to support student mental wellness. The initiatives include; administering wellbeing surveys in first year engineering; creating online wellbeing content, inviting guest lecturers into the classroom to discuss mental wellbeing, developing mental wellbeing classroom activities, assigning reflection assignments in courses, creating weekly email wellbeing check-ins, and more.
We will discuss the initiatives that have been implemented. We will highlight successes (what worked well) and challenges (what didn’t work well).
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