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How Faculty Can Support Students' Well-Being and Promote a Sense of Community

Going to college involves substantial academic and social changes for students.

Currently, about 1 in 3 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students show signs of depression, anxiety, or both (more pronounced among students of color, low-income students, and LGBTQ students.

Faculty play a critical role in student well-being and mental health. Due to the nature of your work, you interact regularly with students and may be among the first to observe shifts in behavior or demeanor.

In addition, students often feel comfortable reaching out to faculty who have served as mentors or who show a caring attitude.

In fact, research shows that interaction with faculty and being engaged in coursework are both positively correlated with several aspects of student well-being.

There are several steps you can take to help students, examples of which are outlined in Tips links below. A simple willingness to talk with and listen to a student can often help significantly. And one of the most important things you can do is encourage students to recognize that mental and physical health are part of what we all need to cultivate so as to ensure a successful, fulfilling life.

Of course, faculty are not expected to serve as psychotherapists. In some cases, there may be a need to connect a student to professional resources around mental or academic needs. The more you are cognizant of student well-being and the more you know about such resources, the more you can serve as a strong advocate for student success.

A majority of students report that their mental health is worse now than before the COVID pandemic. These are challenging times for all of us and acknowledging that mental health is a shared need further demonstrates your leadership in the classroom. Thank you for joining us in promoting student mental health and well-being across the University of Illinois System!

Avijit Ghosh

Interim Executive Vice President & VP for Academic Affairs

Additional Resources