Student Well-Being, Belonging & Success in Higher Ed
This Mental Health Awareness Month, we’ve been thinking a lot about college students across the country. Stories portrayed in the media showed that campus closures and the pivot to online learning exacerbated existing inequities in our nation’s higher education system, with some students shifting their postsecondary plans altogether. But a lesser-known story is about how college students’ mental health has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, resulting in questions about what colleges and universities can do to support their student’s mental health and wellness moving forward and what the correlation is between student well-being and academic success.
To dive into these topics and more, Third Way hosted a conversation on student welfare and success with Andrew Gumbel, journalist and author of Won’t Lose This Dream; Dr. Mesmin Destin, Associate Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University; and Chynna Lloyd, Outreach and Training Fellow at Young Invincibles and graduating senior at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).
Our panel jumped right in, discussing the role colleges play in supporting their students’ mental health and well-being, and how that relationship has shifted as a result of the pandemic. As a college student working towards graduation in the isolation of a virtual learning environment, Chynna offered her perspective on how the pandemic affected her final year of school and shared what supports she believes would have supported her fellow classmates and the broader CSUN community. The panelists spoke about the correlation between student belonging and successful student outcomes. Andrew talked about the unique role student well-being has played in the transformational work at Georgia State University, and Mesmin offered suggestions for how the federal government can work to prioritize student mental health. All of our panelists agreed that while the pandemic has intensified equity gaps in higher education, colleges and universities have also been presented with an opportunity to make systemic changes to close them.