A culture of caring in colleges and universities is about allowing all members of the campus community to stay connected with their social-emotional needs in both the physical and digital worlds. With UniWellness, we help universities provide mental health services effectively and respectfully from: access to basic guidelines about mental health, to simple guides on how to find and get the correct care, to booking physical or online appointments and much more.
Of course, we all care. We all want those around us to feel “okay,” but how do we ensure that we’re creating a supportive environment that enables students to strengthen their mental health. If we examine this statement in two parts — culture and caring — we learn there is still work to be done and how our organization can help.
So what exactly do we consider “care” to be in this academic culture?
As youth transition into young adulthood, it is imperative for them to know that their authentic selves are valued by others. This value is found within the relationships and connections they make. However, if you talk to a young adult, you probably won’t hear anything about understanding and sharing authenticity; instead, you’ll hear about their grades, scholarships, test scores, athletic performance, and honor societies. Our young adults cannot thrive and perform at their fullest potential unless we pay equal attention to their social-emotional well-being.
What about culture?
Culture is driven by what we invest in, what we foster. Colleges and universities invest in academics, research, buildings, and athletic programs, which are all vital attributes to the college experience. Why aren’t mental health services included in that list? When you prioritize access to mental health care on your campus, you create a culture of caring and a balance between academics and well-being. You support the whole student, not just their academic success. You nurture their desire to learn, to question, to excel, to grow. You construct an environment where students truly thrive. Because when students feel fully supported by their school — when they know they can access the care they need when and where they need it — they also feel better equipped to tackle the next day, week, semester, year, and beyond. They feel better prepared to change the world.
To intentionally create a culture of caring, we must clearly communicate why that culture matters to students, faculty, and administration. Then we must take action to create an environment that empowers people to engage in that purpose. When leaders provide the tools for a campus to support students’ well-being, the students notice, and the culture of caring takes hold.
There are many pieces that build a culture of caring.There is nothing more isolating than feeling alone with the negative thoughts in your head. Why not use technology to connect us rather than to isolate us? As we grow our culture of caring, we have more avenues of communication than ever. Let’s use the devices our students are already comfortable with to bring that culture of supporting the whole student.