The scope of the faculty role is changing. Complex topics may come up more frequently and students expect that they will be discussed. Mental health and well-being is a growing concern among college students and is receiving national attention. While this larger conversation about mental health is helpful in reducing stigma and encouraging more folks to seek help, it also creates new challenges for faculty.
Talking about mental health, or other personal topics, may be outside of one’s experience and comfort level. Regardless, we know that many aspects of life impact how students show up in the classroom. According to the National College Health Assessment, there are many factors that impact students’ academic performance including, but not limited to, stress, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, depression, sickness (cold, flu, etc.), and extracurricular activities. When faculty acknowledge these factors and share support resources, student experiences can improve.
Ultimately, faculty can only control what happens in their classroom, but the good news is that there are ways that they can contribute to a community that cares about well-being and student success. Here are a few examples:
Faculty can support student mental well-being in the classroom and do so in ways that remain within ethical and professional boundaries. Content expertise isn’t necessary either. By creating an inclusive environment and encouraging students to build life skills, all faculty can contribute to creating a community where well-being is a priority.
The Wellness Resource Center (WRC) is Temple University’s health promotion office. The WRC offers a variety of intentional learning opportunities to promote well-being and cultivate community. Services include peer-led workshops, campus-wide events, staff and faculty training, wellness consultations, and safer sex supply sales. Learn more about these services and how to request programming at wellness.temple.edu or connect with the WRC on social media (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook) @BeWellTU.
Photo by Giuseppe Milo, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.
 American College Health Association. (2019). National college health assessment: Fall 2018 undergraduate reference group executive summary. Retrieved from https://www.acha.org/documents/ncha/NCHA-II_Fall_2018_Undergraduate_Reference_Group_Executive_Summary.pdf