Higher education professionals and students across the UK are being encouraged to ‘check in with yourself’ by using a new digital tool for managing personal and institution-wide mental wellness from ed-tech specialist eQuality Solutions (eQS).
With over half the UK student population reporting their mental well-being has declined as a result of COVID-19 (Office for National Statistics, December 2020), disability and mental wellness specialist eQS has launched a nationwide campaign called ‘check in with yourself’, which encourages the sector to check their mental wellness regularly.
Research was carried out by eQs in partnership with the New Economics Foundation (NEF), producing their new mental wellness management concept, known as the Six Domains of Mental Wellness. This concept explains that there are six key areas of influence that can impact a person’s overall mental well-being. By assessing each of the domains using eQS’ new digital tool, an individual can reveal an instant visual snapshot of their current mental wellness status.
The digital tool, known as Learning Labs Plus, includes e-learning content on understanding each of the Six Domains of Mental Wellness, a short set of digital questionnaires to assess a user’s mental wellness, and a library of ‘action labs’ to develop and maintain mental wellness. For higher education providers, there is an oversight dashboard to access anonymised total student and staff population data.
Understanding the long-term, lasting effects COVID-19 will have on mental health in the higher education sector, eQS is offering a trial of this insight as part of the ‘check in with yourself’ campaign, for this sector only. The aim of the campaign is to help universities analyse critical mental wellness issues in their student population and partner with them to create effective and targeted initiatives.
Andy Gough, eQS CEO, said: ‘We can all accept it is easy enough to check your physical health but, prior to our research, I wasn’t aware of any tool that can quickly and easily tell you how you are doing mentally.
‘Having operated in the higher education sector for over 15 years, we are aware of the growing issues in mental health with students; however, the pandemic brought in unprecedented challenges to mental well-being for both students and professionals.
‘At the same time there has been increased pressure from the government for higher education providers to take more responsibility in managing student mental well-being, for which there is an abundance of tools but nothing that provided total student population data for tracking and evidencing effective management.
‘For universities, we can provide a data-driven solution to manage student mental well-being. Learning Labs Plus can show an oversight summary of how their students are feeling and specific wellness domains that may be impacting them the most. For instance, we may see the Social Domain is looking low, so the university may want to reach out with promoting online social clubs and we could create a bespoke Lab on “finding your tribe at uni whilst learning remotely”.’
The Six Domains of Mental Wellness include emotional, motivational, spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social wellness and have become the core of the Learning Labs Plus e-learning content for higher education professionals and students.
Rosie Maguire, eQS research partner NEF associate, explains the need for a tool to manage student mental well-being today: ‘As we move through the different stages of our lives, we encounter changes and challenges that evidence shows can impact our mental well-being. Students starting university often go through these life-change events all at the same time: moving house, navigating independent living, becoming financially (more) independent, starting a new course, making new friends, etc. Combine this with doing it all in the face of a global pandemic and the unprecedented challenges that also come along as a result, and it becomes very easy to see how this segment of young people are struggling right now.’
Andy Gough, eQS CEO, concluded: ‘We are firm believers that knowledge is power. The “check in with yourself” campaign is vitally important to the current mental health crisis in higher education. It’s important to be able to provide something practical and visual, in order to manage something that can feel so intangible. We wanted to make that easy to try out, so more people understand there are ways of effectively managing mental wellness. Anyone can head to the site to check their own current mental wellness status online now.’
A full free licence for Learning Labs Plus, including all learning content, the assessment tool, and development labs, can also be accessed for a trial period at the ‘check in with yourself’ site from now until the end of June 2021.