11 December 2019

Every student healthy and well

Maastricht University has initiated the Student Well-being project to make sure that students are more resilient in their (student) life. In this project, as a student you receive tools to acquire skills that will foster your well-being during your studies and in your (professional) life. One of the main elements of the project is the annual Well-being Week that took place last November. A week of information and training in the field of well-being in the broadest sense of the word: relaxation, sports, Study Smart, Mindfulness, preventing a burnout, Digital Detox, and many more areas in which you can use some support. Liesbeth Mouha, project leader Student Well-being and UM psychologist, is proud of the results that were achieved in the first year of the Student Well-being project.

The Student Well-being project entirely focuses on student wellbeing, but also involves staff members. “We coach staff members via the Staff Support project, so that they can offer better guidance to their students and perceive possible problems,” says Liesbeth Mouha. “It is certainly not the intention that teachers and other staff members act as psychologists, that’s we are here for. Important is that they know where to go when they have noticed problems. That suits one staff member better than the other, so everyone is free to decide if they want take part in the training.” Other pillars of the Student Well-being project are the Well-being Movement (WBM), Peer Support, Caring Universities, and shortening the waiting time for an appointment with the UM psychologists.    

Well-being Week

“This year, the Well-being Week was an even greater successful than in 2018 and that is wonderful!” says Mouha. “Over 1000 students registered and the actual number of visitors was 855. The week as a whole was evaluated strongly positive by 95% of the participants. There was a lot of interest; some students went to each and every event.” The intention is to repeat Well-being Week each year and to expand it gradually. Now already, there were 40 events at all faculties. Mouha: “We will extend the concept of Well-being Week to one Well-being day each month in addition to the annual Week. Also, we will involve student teams to promote the events even more at the various faculties. We have made big steps already, but we can improve our communication about everything we offer.” Well-being Week was not only open to students, but also to staff. “About 40 staff members took part in this special week. They spoke about issues they faced and students recognized their problems.”

Liesbeth Mouha, project leader Student Well-being and UM psychologist.

Onion model

Peer Support

UM psychologists and the Student Well-being project depart from a model in the shape of an onion: the student forms the heart and around him or her are layers. Friends and fellow students form the first layer, the one closest to the student. The next layer are teachers, followed by UM psychologists; the outer layer is the outside world. Mouha: “The students provide Peer Support. That is the first step: a fellow student noticing that help is needed. We want to offer something at each level to support students. So we support those who support the student. From January onwards, the SSC presents the Well-being & Career student team that offers walk-in consultation hours at the University library, both in the inner city and in Randwyck. These students have learned to hold informal talks and to recognize possible help requests. When they notice that someone is not comfortable in his or her skin, they advise them to come and have a talk with us.”  

From wide to specific

The offer of the UM psychologists ranges from wide to very specific. There are lectures, workshops for 16 participants maximum and four-week group trainings about specific subjects. Do you still need more support, then you can have an individual appointment and possibly a coaching trajectory.  “Students can register free for our general offer and get ample opportunities to develop personally and professionally. You see, we focus on both the upcoming career of students and their wellbeing. That is why we collaborate with our colleagues from Career Service for this offer. Our lectures range from learning to network to digital applications. The workshops are about mindfulness, self-confidence, stress, time management and much more. Examples of the somewhat more specific trainings are assertiveness, working on fear of failure or perfectionism, but also loss and mourning. And as I said, if you still feel the need for individual talks after all that, we will arrange that for you. Because we noticed that long waiting lists for the UM psychologists caused troubles to students, we worked hard to shorten those. And we succeeded!”

Check out the complete offer of the UM psychologists and Career Services.

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Text: Margot Krijnen         Photo: Loraine Bodewes