Student and Instructor Well-Being

There is a strong connection between student mental health and wellness and academics: struggles in one area often affect the other. Instructors are in an important front-line position to identify concerns and help students connect with appropriate resources. At the same time, instructors must also prioritize their own well-being in order to be effective teachers and healthy human beings.

Download the infographic “Student Mental Health & Wellness” for a summary of this page.

Identifying and responding to students in distress

This session by Student Wellness Services provides information about the mental health and mental illness model so that participants can learn how to recognize if students are struggling, with particular emphasis if someone is in immediate distress and/or in crisis. Participants will gain practical tips on what to say and do in order to connect someone with the appropriate resources.

Office of Support Services & Community Engagement: Green Folder:

The Green Folder is a quick reference document for students, staff and faculty in need of mental health services or looking to help others.


Many of the services listed below are open to students, faculty, and staff.

  • Student Wellness Services – Medical, mental health, accessibility, and health promotion services for students.
  • Human Resources - Maintains a comprehensive list of wellness and accessibility resources, including the Employee Assistance Program, mental health, nutritional health, financial health, physical health, information on benefits coverage, and more. HR Intranet
  • Athletic and Recreation Centre (the ARC) – Athletic facilities for students, faculty, staff, and the community.
  • Office of Faith and Spiritual Life – Spiritual support, ceremonial services, and interfaith community development for students, faculty and staff.
  • Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre – Holistic support services for Indigenous students at Queen’s, including advising, tutoring, culturally-relevant counselling and wellness programming, cultural events and programs.
  • Yellow House – A safe, comfortable and accountable space for queer, racialized, marginalized students to create community, feel empowered, empower others, and celebrate and honour their history.
  • Student Academic Support Services – Academic support for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Queen’s University International Centre – Academic and personal development supports for international students; cross-cultural supports for the campus at large.
  • Human Rights and Equity Office – Confidential advice for students, faculty, and staff concerning human rights and equity; sexual violence support and response; and accessibility.
  • Sexual Health Resource Centre – Information and referral service for questions regarding sex, sexuality, and sexual health.
  • Levana Gender Advocacy Centre – Advocacy programs, confidential referrals to local organizations, alternate resource library.
  • Food Access Resource –Division of Student Affairs website with campus and community resources about food including the Alma Mater Society Food Bank a free food service for the Queen’s community located in the JDUC (currently offering weekly COVID-safe pick up outside).
  • SGPS Graduate Peer Support Centre and AMS Peer Support Centre – student volunteers providing peer-based support and referrals.

Five Ways to Attend to Wellness in Your Teaching

"The number 1 in a light blue circle"Time it right. Mid- and end-of-term are particularly stressful times for students. Take a couple of minutes to share resources for student supports.



"The number 2 in a medium blue circle"Check in with students. Instead of diving right into a teaching session, take five minutes for a check-in. Create a slide with four different numbered pictures (animals, foods, places, album covers). Ask students to identify which number matches their mood.



"The number 3 in a blue/grey circle"Pair mental health with academics (1). Consider inviting a Student Academic Success Services learning specialist into your course to talk about learning strategies for a specific assignment. SASS also has many online resources that relate academics to mental health and wellness.



"The number 4 in a dark blue/grey circle"Pair mental health with academics (2). Consider beginning your teaching session with a mindfulness activity. Paul Grogan of Queen’s Department of Biology has published research on his techniques in the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning; or watch Paula Gardner from Brock University’s Faculty of Applied Health Science demonstrate a different technique.



"The number 5 in a mavy bule circle"Try for flexibility in deadlines and workload. Adopt Universal Design for Learning strategies to give students as much flexibility and choice in assignment type and deadline as possible. You might have a 1-3 day submission window for assignments, tests, and exams, or drop the lowest grades from a set of similar assessments. At the same time, recommend a specific weekly schedule for students so they aren’t overwhelmed by choice.


Additional Resources

Student and instructor wellness intersects with other aspects of teaching and learning. Consider materials in the CTL’s Accessibility and UDL website and the Inclusive Community Guide for more ideas and information.

Watch the webinar “Wellness in Challenging Times” by Dr. Klodiana Kolomitro (Queen’s University) and Dr. Natasha Kenny (University of Calgary)

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The Transforming Teaching Toolkit by the Centre for Teaching & Learning, Queen’s University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.