Eugene positively impacts the wellbeing and positive mental health of his students. Eugene supports our mental health by demonstrating that he cares a great deal about our experiences in the program, our learning and our workloads. Eugene cares about how the school is supporting our learning goals and our unique experiences as professional, part-time students. He listens well and asks how he can help facilitate our program and professional goals. As a faculty member, he heard the concerns of students and took it upon himself to take the issues to the administration, affecting change, positively impacting the overall mental health and wellbeing of many students in the classroom. He is an all-in, invested, supportive, change-making faculty member unlike any other encountered by students in our program. He cares about his role as an instructor and he cares about his students! Eugene proves that academic rigour and compassion can happily coexist!
Eugene challenges students to deliver their best work, asking tough questions that make work better. I doubt very much that he would think that what he was doing as supporting student mental health. But that's exactly what he is doing by listening and caring about the experiences his students are having in the program! Eugene can be hard-driving and definitely challenges students to think. He's also very fair, compassionate, accommodating and doesn't hesitate to advocate on behalf of students.
To me, mental health in the context of graduate school means students can successfully pursue their studies without suffering undue anxiety, stress or trauma that harms both their academic career and personal life.
Listen to students, encourage them to voice their challenges, take those challenges seriously and do what you can to address them on your own or through department leadership. Educators and staff can play an important role in identifying student mental health issues and addressing them at least to some degree.
Mental health is a broad concept that most of us have no expertise in either identifying or addressing professionally and systematically. Nevertheless, all faculty can and should exercise sensitivity, understanding and compassion with and toward students and their stresses and anxieties. We have a responsibility as professionals and an imperative as human beings to do so.
--- Eugene Lang