Dr. Staalduinen always starts her class asking how everyone is doing and genuinely cares about the answers of her students. She also always reminds us to take time to take care of ourselves and put our mental well-being and health first. She's very understanding and always willing to help where she can and very open to making accommodations, especially during times of high stress. Dr. Staalduinen reminds us to look at the positive and is never afraid to admit to making mistakes and doesn't make a big deal about them which helps students like me accept my own mistakes without stressing about them.
To me, mental health encompasses our emotions, thoughts and feelings, and affects everything we do. Good mental health provides a foundation that makes stress and difficult situations more manageable. When we neglect our mental health, everything gets harder. As with our physical health, I believe that we also need to check in and maintain our mental health not only when things are bad but on a daily basis to maintain our mental fitness.
Personally, I am still learning about mental health and how to support learners. One of the ways I try to support student mental health is to start the term by admitting to this and that I am imperfect too. I then like to start each by checking in with how students are doing, either with a poll or a casual question, and respond to any trends that pop up if I am able. I also am available if students need someone to talk to.
I also do my best to give timelines in advance, but also check in as deadlines approach in case students are being hit with multiple large assessments on the same day. If I can fairly adjust deadlines for the class and relieve some pressure, I am happy to do so.
Students deal with a lot that can impact their mental health. They are under a lot of pressure, and in my experience their mental health becomes low priority. For many University is the most exciting time of their lives, but it can also be very isolating. In order for students to get the most out of their education I strongly believe that we must make student mental health a priority, and continue to work to break the stigma surrounding the topic.
--- Dr. Laura van Staalduinen