Using the power of technology to improve student wellbeing

Over a quarter of UK students experience a change in their mental wellbeing when beginning their higher education (HE) journey - for the worse. Students with good mental wellbeing are more likely to stay in education, academically succeed and enjoy the experience.

With strides towards collaboration and digital developments, including intuitive platforms and chatbot technology, it’s clear there are major advancements to enable better student wellbeing. Here’s how technology acts as an enabler of support and more about the pivotal role it plays in improving wellbeing.

Power in the palm of their hands

Wellbeing is a challenging concept to define. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) details it as ‘state of mind in which an individual is able to realise their own abilities, cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to their community’. 

However your institution defines it, to make sure every student can reach their full potential, feel involved and get the most from their education - we need to empower them. GuildHE stated in their Wellbeing in Higher Education research that they identified a key part of creating a culture of wellbeing is having good signposting to services. 

Making students aware of the services that are available to them not only enables them to access appropriate support but also de-stigmatises poor mental health.

While the reliance students have on smartphones is sometimes seen as a negative - with cyberbullying cases increasingly commonplace, they are still valuable vessels you can leverage. Think about how you could offer effective student support services and signposted guidance, all through a device they have in their back pockets. It allows us to reach students where they’re already highly active, making it easier than ever to offer this guiding light. 

From a platform that provides support services for those struggling with depression or anxiety to a reporting dashboard where victim-survivors can anonymously report their experience, accessible technology can help within the educational sector. They’re also great for signposting wellbeing initiatives and championing change. 

Technology ensures a student facing difficulties can have the supportive intervention they require at the earliest possible moment. Sometimes, all that’s required is simply asking someone how they are or if they need help. There are more touchpoints to do this than ever before.

It’s not enough to support students when they’re in crisis. Preventative strategies are vital to maintaining healthy and happy student populations. Platforms, systems and services are some options for HE institutions looking to propagate change with tech. These powerful innovations cultivate environments and communities that are supportive of positive mental health and wellbeing.

Access to intelligent analytics

In the Office for Students’ (OfS) latest annual review, it highlighted mental health, hate crime and sexual misconduct as some of the biggest areas of concern for universities. 

Low student engagement can be a warning sign of mental or physical stress. A mental health survey of UK universities published in March 2019 was a wake-up call for the sector. 

Worryingly, of 37,500 students polled, 50.3% reported self-harm, 87.7% struggle with anxiety and 75.6% conceal their symptoms from friends. Real-time engagement data and analytics are increasingly being used to support these students, identifying those at risk and enabling early intervention.

More centralised, data-driven support systems will shed light on issues that negatively affect student wellbeing. Being able to make predictive judgements on students and what support they require greatly benefits education leaders, giving them what they need to identify problems before they escalate. 

Although there’s undeniable value in using analytics to respond reactively to provide support - if a student isn’t attending, for example - we need to go further and put the technology in the students’ hands. This is so they can use data about themselves to understand how they’re learning.

Secure automation may also allow shared student data and case histories between academic and professional staff, resulting in better targeting of support and resource allocation. The most precious resource is time and with automation on your side, you can better focus on actually addressing these issues proactively and improving student wellbeing. 

The future of higher education might be undefined, especially during COVID-19, but it’s clear it incorporates automation, AI and machine learning. These trends in tech are opening the way for new approaches in higher education. Schools, colleges and universities could share data, providing a more comprehensive approach that helps shape better policies and preventative measures. 

Tech already transforming the sector

With resources already stretched thin and budget constraints tighter than ever, what’s reassuring to see is you can improve student wellbeing with technology. Take inspiration from other universities who are paving the way and are on board with the shift in institutional culture using technology:

Can you afford not to use technology to tackle these issues? Innovation isn’t easy, but as HE continues to change rapidly, institutions will have no choice but to transform or fall behind. It’s made easier with technology on your side. 

Pioneer a preventative and personalised approach

 

While everybody must be supported in HE, some students might need tailored support to thrive. Providers must be mindful that the student experience isn’t the same for everyone. Diversifying your offer around student wellbeing enables students to feel included.

The GuildHE report  on wellbeing found black and minority ethnic (BAME), LGBTQ+, international students and students with disabilities were more likely to experience poor mental and wellbeing. It’s clear more can be done to ensure everybody is supported and included. 

It might be that your institution has an incomplete picture of student wellbeing because of underreporting. Without technology in place to capture this data, you’re missing out on essential improvements you need to make. 

That’s where the award-winning Culture Shift online reporting platform comes in. Created with confidentiality and students at its very core, we’re committed to giving all victim-survivors a place for support where they can feel safe and listened to. 

Ensuring a more inclusive learning environment is available for institutions to implement is our passion. The platform works alongside processes you already have in place, being that place to turn when students can’t wait for student services to open or don’t have the confidence to voice their concerns in person. 

Support from technology can be scaled in ways unimagined previously, allowing for faster response rates and higher resolution rates. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring how education can leverage these advancements. We’ve still got a long way to go but the awareness of these available platforms is moving in the right direction. 

Improved student retention, prevented trauma, increased satisfaction, positive wellbeing and safer student experience - all achieved by technology - is progressively powerful in an industry like HE. It’s easier to be optimistic about improving student wellbeing with technology being implemented across the board. Want to learn more about how you promote positive student wellbeing and experience?

Promote positive student wellbeing in educational institutions, and drive innovation

Technology is driving more inclusivity and support in HE. These technological advancements encourage efficiencies and invite more positive student experiences. Our guide helps you identify outdated processes, craft a business case for more student-centric strategies and adopt more efficient processes beneficial for wellbeing.

To do this, you need to brace yourself for the challenge ahead. That’s why we’ve addressed what you can expect to face, the increasing trends in higher education to watch and stats to be the catalyst. Get decision-makers involved and start using the power of technology to improve student wellbeing today by downloading your guide today!

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