Students Want Faculty to Help with Stress

Students want faculty to be involved in addressing stress and mental health. Here are ways we can help.

The following is a post that I wrote for the MTEI Teaching Tip blog during my term as MTEI’s associate director.

“The vast majority of students want a significant level of involvement from faculty members in addressing stress and mental health issues,” according to an Inside Higher Ed survey on student well-being in July 2023 of 1,250 college students at 59 institutions. Here are actions the survey identified that faculty can take:

  • Put stress management resources in syllabi. (You could also post a link to Mental Health at Cornell in Canvas.)
  • Talk about students’ stressors and stress management in class.
  • Be mindful of how deadline times impact students’ lives.
  • Offer flexibility for students with extenuating circumstances.
  • Drop students’ lowest assignment grade.
  • Avoid high-stakes assessments, such as exams worth 50% or more of students’ final grades.
  • Offer extra credit for completing stress reduction activities outside of class, or lead stress reduction exercises in class.

Those actions harmonize with the Cornell Mental Health Review Final Report, which encouraged faculty to

“model and discuss behaviors that promote support for mental health as part of course orientation lectures and initial meetings (e.g., establishing and articulating boundaries around evening and weekend communication and deadlines, endorsing sleep, learning from disappointment, and accessing resources).”

For more ideas, see MTEI’s advice on supporting students, including academic help, accommodations, and aiding students of concern.

PS. Inside Higher Ed provided this visualization of survey results: