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Students working with a Dominican Friar in the lab

The Whole Student

General Well-Being Practices

Students who reported poor mental health but did not qualify for a diagnosis were three times more likely to experience academic impairment than students who reported a flourishing mental health state (Keyes et al., 2013). This research suggests that the mere absence of a mental-health disorder does not indicate flourishing mental health, and that positive factors such as social connection, emotional well-being and psychological health can help to protect students from academic impairment. Faculty members report these practices as helpful in promoting academic resilience. Not all practices, of course, will be appropriate in all contexts.

  • Remember your students are human, and so are you.
  • Let them see your passion for your subject.
  • Use humor if possible.
  • Allow your enthusiasm for teaching to show.
  • Try to reduce the power dynamic between you and students.
  • Allow students to see your authentic self, including your mistakes and vulnerabilities. (The look up to you as highly accomplished. If you have had failures and still “made it,” perhaps they can as well.
  • Talk about mental health openly to destigmatize it.
  • Consider sharing ways that you practice self-care, and have students share how they practice it as well.
  • Begin classes or labs with a brief mindfulness exercise.
  • Include information in your syllabus about mental health.
  • Let students know you are open to talking with them individually about how they are, or are not, flourishing in your course and in school. (Refer to “Supporting Students in Distress”)

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