Student Wellbeing Fundamentals
What does Student Wellbeing mean?
Student wellbeing refers to the overall development of students and the nurturing of their quality of life by the school in which they study. By the time students begin education, they are at an age where their emotions and mental states can still be easily influenced by many factors. Here, the school can either help and nurture their wellbeing, or it can have a negative effect on it.
While student wellbeing is not something that we can grab or see with a natural eye when we look at a school, we can easily get a hint of it from the values that the school is promoting. For example, if a school is only promoting excellency and hustle, that might raise a red flag. Only focusing on competition and not giving students a chance to have a life outside of school can be very draining in the long run. Of course, student wellbeing can also be influenced by external factors – take Covid or war for example. In cases like these, schools should be a source of mental and physical support to their students.
Concretely, well-being at school means:
– feeling safe, valued and respected
– being actively and meaningfully engaged in academic and social activities
– having positive self-esteem, self-efficacy and a sense of autonomy
– having positive and supportive relationships with teachers and peers
– feeling a sense of belonging to their classroom and school
– feeling happy and satisfied with their lives at school
Why is it important?
The importance of student wellbeing comes at a high stake – academic excellence is sort of dependent on it. If we want to be good at something, we need our body and mind to help us in achieving it. It is not enough to want to be good at archery if we are not ambitious enough to sign up for archery classes. Ambition, curiosity, and proactiveness are all qualities that come from a healthy mindset, and a healthy mindset is reliant on positivity. See? If that sounds too complicated, basically students that are happier learn more effectively and can be more perceptive to new opportunities and success.
Student Wellbeing Statistics
According to a study conducted by the European Commission, between 50% and 78% of students that live in EU countries “perceive a high quality of school bonding, connectedness, attachment and acceptance, and feel like an important part of their school community.” Moreover, between 70% and 90% of them consider school a relevant and important part of their future plans.
On the other hand, a study conducted by The American Psychological Association reports that some high school students experience high levels of stress. Around 31% of high school pupils feel overwhelmed by their school workload while 34% admit to feeling tired due to stress. One of the solutions that the United States chose to tackle this issue was implementing school-based mental health services.
Overall, if we are to look at studies that observe the phenomenon of wellbeing in high school students, the positive conclusion is that it can be linked to success in the academic field. Moreover, it can also be linked to better-quality relationships and meaningful interactions.
Student Health vs Student Wellbeing
Student health here relates to the physical health of the student which can be nurtured by exercise, a healthy diet, enough sleep etc. Wellbeing, on the other hand, is what we aim to nurture by promoting values like kindness, understanding, etc. and by providing students with a safe environment. These two although they are different, are very closely connected. There is even a famous Latin saying that states “Mens sana in corpore sano” which translates to a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Types of Student Wellbeing
A student’s emotional wellbeing is at the core of a happy and achieving student. Schools can nurture emotional wellbeing by offering things like counselling sessions and speech classes that should help students develop a stronger sense of their emotions and the way they express them. Parents or tutors also have a crucial role in helping their kids develop healthy habits and encouraging them to express their emotions freely from the moment they are born.
Or Mental wellbeing refers to the aspect of good mental health. Schools have a role to protect their students’ mental health and this means protecting them from any harm that could have a lastin effect on them. Bullying, physical harm, or exclusion are just some of the things that could harm a student’s mental wellbeing and schools should be responsible for stopping any such harm.
This part is related to the socializing part of a student’s life. School is not just the place where we go to learn and get grades. In fact, it is also the place where we make some lifelong friends, learn new things about each other, and learn to work in teams. Last but not least, social wellbeing can also be nurtured by implementing things like clubs, societies, or even student organisations where students can engage with each other and external parties.
Fun Wellbeing Activities
Nature Walks – can be done alone or in a group with classmates to calm the mind and get some physical activity
Classroom Garden – for a physical school, it can be done in the classroom. For online students, each should have their own classroom plant to care for. Growing plants is known to help reduce cortisol levels which can help manage feelings of anxiety
Group Art Projects – Art is a great way for students to express themselves and projects also encourage group work, so it’s a win-win situation
Yoga – Related to the physical activity part of students’ wellbeing, it can be a great way for a class to start their day together.
Volunteer together – volunteering is a great way to give back to the community. It can also help students to socialize, discover emotions and to develop a sense of community.
Wellbeing Challenges Students Face
High school can be tough, with many challenges that can impact student wellbeing. This section explores common challenges like stress, social pressures, body image, and academic pressure.
Getting good grades, making friends, and being good at something are just some of the things “expected” from a high school student. But simple assignments can be very easy for some, while others might find them very difficult – the same goes for socializing.
Students should feel safe enough to reach out to someone when they are stressed – whether that’s someone from their family, a teacher, a classmate or support staff. There are exercises to manage stress and other professional tactics that could help a student get through a stressful period.
High school is the time of self-discovery, and this is where friendships are made. It can also be the time when we realize we don’t actually want to be part of something. Friends can sometimes turn out to be not the best influence, and that is fine – because we do not have to be like them if we do not feel comfortable with that.
Feeling unhappy about the way you look can be tough on your wellbeing. Students who struggle with their body image may feel bad about themselves and lack confidence. This can cause them to feel left out or miss out on fun school activities, and they may find it difficult to focus on their studies. Sometimes, they might even take extreme measures, such as not eating enough, which can be harmful to their health. Schools can help promote a positive body image by teaching students to be critical of what they see in the media, encouraging healthy eating and exercise habits, and creating a welcoming environment where everyone is accepted and appreciated for who they are on the inside.
How to Improve Student Wellbeing
Here are some examples of things that could improve student wellbeing in your high school:
An inclusive and connected classroom culture
A classroom that is safe for every student to speak their voice, and be mindful of each other. It is crucial that every student feels valued and the focus should always be on a student’s abilities rather than what they are not good at. Not all students can go through the course material at the same pace and that is fine. Individual learning plans best support the individual student’s progress that can give each student the desired attention and help.
Empowering authentic student participation
There is nothing worse than mentally preparing to say an idea – that you thought was brilliant – out loud, and getting told off for it. There is no such thing as bad ideas when it comes to creativity, and students should always be encouraged to speak their minds – while also remaining respectful of the opinions of others. Students should also be included in any decision-making process at the school level so they feel involved and heard.
Visible leadership that inspires positive school communities
Wellbeing should not only refer to students of a high school. All teachers and staff should be a live example of what it means to be in an environment that cultivates wellbeing. If a school has a leadership that is transparent and sincere and builds upon the values that nurture wellbeing, students will follow the example. Parents will also be more likely to trust a school that practices what they preach.
Student Wellbeing Resources
Mental Health Questionnaires
Online screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine if someone is experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. Here is a website where online screenings are available for different symptoms. These tests, however, should not be considered official diagnoses and if a student is experiencing mental health issues the school should help find a specialist.
There are a handful of apps that are available for students to help with their mental wellbeing. We tried to gather the free ones here but we also included some paid ones:
- Headspace – Relax with guided meditations and mindfulness techniques that bring calm, wellness and balance to your life in just a few minutes a day. Pricing for students is $0.83 USD/month or $9.99 USD/yr.
- Mindshift – A free self-help anxiety relief app, that helps you reduce worry, stress, and panic by following evidence-based strategies.
- Calm – Focuses on meditation and sleep to lower stress and reduce anxiety. You’ll be able to try Calm for free, use a limited free version, or choose the subscription version to get full access.
- Happify – An app for stress and worry. It uses games and activities to help you overcome stress, challenges and negative thoughts. There is both a free and paid version depending on what you’d like to access.
Some interesting studies related to student wellbeing:
- – Waters, L., & Loton, D. (2019). A systematic review of school-based positive psychology interventions. – read here
- – Lindai Xie; Lung Kuo (2021). Role of Academic Emotions in the Relationship between Academic Achievement and Resilience among Eighth Graders. – read here
- – Rasberry CN, Lee SM, Robin L, et al. The association between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance: a systematic review of the literature. 2011 – read here
Student Wellbeing FAQ
How do you promote students’ wellbeing?
Promoting students’ wellbeing can be achieved through strategies such as fostering positive relationships, creating a supportive learning environment, teaching social and emotional skills, addressing academic stress, encouraging physical activity and healthy habits, and providing mental health support.
How do you ensure the wellbeing of students?
The wellbeing of students can be ensured mostly by practising the things mentioned above, and most importantly by being there for them. If students feel safe to voice their concerns, someone can always help them no matter what they are going through.
What are the biggest wellbeing concerns for students in general?
Stress, body image, peer pressure, and social expectations are just some of the wellbeing concerns that students face. Everyone has a private life at home and might be going through something whether they are showing signs of it or not, so we need to be kind, always.
How do you incorporate mental health in the classroom?
To incorporate mental health in the classroom, teachers can integrate social and emotional learning, teach mindfulness practices, provide mental health education, create a safe and supportive environment, and encourage help-seeking behaviour.
What is the wellbeing framework?
The wellbeing framework is a holistic approach to supporting and promoting the well-being of students. It involves focusing on different aspects of well-being, such as physical health, emotional and social development, and academic success, and creating a supportive learning environment that addresses these needs.