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Mental Health Matters

Student well-being in times of Covid-19

The year 2020 has been overshadowed by a global pandemic – the Covid-19 virus – with currently more than 48 million cases and more than 1.2 million deaths; numbers that are continuously rising. Besides the physical health consequences of the virus, it also has psychological effects. Studies report that the covid-19 pandemic is associated with increased stress, anxiety, and depression (for a meta-analysis see Salari et al., 2020). There are different mechanisms, that could contribute to the increased prevalence of mental health problems, such as worries about own health or the health or the health of relatives and friends, and decreases in social interactions (Son et al., 2020).

University students might be a particular vulnerable group for the psychological effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Especially during young adulthood, the social context plays an important role for students. With social distancing and remote teaching, there are few possibilities for interactions with other students. Indeed, a recent study has shown that worries about contracting the virus and loneliness contributed to mental health problems among students and that students coped with the situation by searching for help from others (Son et al., 2020).

This think-tank aims at finding innovative and creative ideas on how to improve mental health problems among students during times of Covid-19. Although there are several initiatives from the university (such as daily morning start-ups, mentors, coaching, “gezondeboel”), these differ between faculties and are moreover not often used by students. Two questions arise: First, how can we better reach students to help them to cope with feelings such as loneliness? Second, how can we increase the bond between the university and students as well as between students and students in times of Covis-19? Ideally, the think-tank has a number of students with different backgrounds to achieve a creative, out-of-the box solution. Given that the university is the place where students spend a large amount of time, it makes sense to embed this think-tank in the university context. Client of the think tank is Student Support department of Radboud Univerity.

The kick-off weekend of this think tank is on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 January in conference centre Soeterbeeck in Ravenstein. This is a mandatory part of the think tank. Then weekly meetings take place on Tuesday evenings from 18.30 -20.30. As part of the think tank, you will go on a four-day study trip (you will receive more information about the study trip during the kick-off).

Dr. Dominique Maciejewski, Assistant Professor Developmental Psychopathology
Tim Houwen, programme coordinator at Radboud Honours Academy