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Good practices from student well-being symposium

Below are the good practices and speakers from the well-being. You can also see which panel session they participated in.

Symposium format

On 30 September and 1 October 2021 students and staff from Leiden University and other European universities came together for the Good Practices on Student Well-Being symposium. The symposium brought together students, support staff, researchers and lecturers to share knowledge and experiences in the area of student well-being. They shared information on their approaches, tools, courses, e-health and research.

Panel sessions: 30 September 2021

  1. Well-being as part of the curriculum
    • Values and death image among medical students
    • Williams LifeSkills©
    • Mentoring programme at Semmelweis University
  2. Student Support
    • Comprehensive student support strategy at Semmelweis University
    • Supporting Computer Science Students
    • The humanities Buddy Programme
    • POPcorner: Talent is what you make it!
  3. Research and tools
    • Psychological well-being during Covid-19
    • WARN-D: Forecasting Depression Onset
    • Moodpep: self-help programme
    • The Mental Health Symposium
  4. Project for well-being
    • The Mindfulnest
    • Do it for yourself, make it yourself
    • Taskforce on student well-being

Panel sessions: 1 October 2021

  1. Scientific Research on Well-being
    • The Caring Universities project
    • The quality of spaces related to well-being
    • Understanding Learning Orientation
    • The quality of living for well-being
  2. Well-being in specific subjects
    • Humanica Career Socialisation Workshops
    • Student well-being and archaeological research
    • Reflections on the Honour Class in Innovation, Health and Well-being
  3. Engaging students in well-being
    • Chill Your Mind
    • Student Support Groups
    • Breaking patterns together

Good practices

Agnes Zana, Semmelweis University 

The Death, Culture, Medical Anthropology course sensitises students to understanding cultural differences and the causes behind these differences, and teaches them about the taboo of death in Western-type societies. The course also includes personal experience groups, a Death Café, and animal-assisted therapy practice. 

Adrienne Stauder, Semmelweis University 

Williams LifeSkills® (WLS) psychosocial skills programme is a small group training addressing the high stress students often face. Psychoeducation and practising the skills helps to improve the participants’ stress management and communication skills. The modules include the management of negative emotions, short relaxation techniques, assertive communication and conflict-solving exercises, as well as the development of empathy and positive thinking in order to improve relationships and self-efficacy.

Sjoerd Louwaars, Leiden University 

PLNT supports challenge-based learning: an action-oriented, interdisciplinary and team-based approach to teaching and learning. It facilitates students to engage, learn and reflect on real Well-being Challenges and make an impact on the region. Participants go through all stages of an innovation trajectory and acquire the necessary skills to start entrepreneurial activities in well-being.

Dr János Kollár, Semmelweis University 

The programme focuses on five fields: Creativity improvement, learning methods (mnemotechnics), lecturing methods (basic principles and modern technology of teaching), the application of social media (World Wide Web) in teaching and relaxation. In 20 hours, teachers and students learn how to teach or study at a higher level of quality.  This has already proved to be successful at universities in Hungary at Malta University and  at Turku University (Finland). 

Sanne van Luenen, Leiden University 

Caring Universities (CU) is an internationally embedded consortium of four Dutch universities that aims to monitor and improve student mental health. Students receive mental health surveys annually and are offered free online, guided programmes focused on reducing stress, improving mood, reducing procrastination and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Results have shown that students have found this a useful and effective programme, and they report a decrease in symptoms upon completion of the programme.

Claudio Piferi, University of Florence 

This session will provide you with information on data and studies on improving the quality of university students’ residency. In Italy, law no. 338/2000 entitled ‘Provision on housing and residences for university students’ aims to remedy the lack of legislation and increase the available accommodations and residences for university students. Since the enactment of the law, a research group in the Department of Architecture of the University of Florence, part of the TESIS centre, represents the privileged observatory of the interventions  that have been carried out as a result of this law. 

Fiammetta Cosci, University of Florence 

Living in a pandemic, which also implies social distancing, can be detrimental to  the psychological well-being of students. The factors that influence well-being and their effect will be illustrated with an interactive activity based on data collected during the 2020 lockdown period via an online survey offered to university students in Florence (n = 951). 

Rosalinde Spitters, Leiden University 

The online ‘Student Support Groups’ provide a sustainable support network in challenging times of isolation, loneliness, and anxiety. The support groups consist of approximately six students and are hosted weekly by an experienced staff member or trained student assistant. During the sessions, participants discuss how everyone is doing, set personal well-being goals and support one another in the process of personal development. 

Dardan Bastiaan, Leiden University 

This presentation follows a supportive group of students exploring the practice of meditation together as well as the efforts of the organisers to improve the well-being of students through action research. Though many students report having mental health problems, experience shows that it is difficult to draw students to well-being programmes; many students only take part after problems have escalated to such a degree that they are much more difficult to manage. In understanding this issue, contrary to a biochemical approach to well-being, we focus on adverse childhood experiences and attachment conditioning that could lead to unconscious self-sabotage and dysfunctional behaviour later in life.

Yentl Croese, Julia Hondema, Sara Hondmann, & Sanne Wolthuis, Leiden University 

As a Learning Experience Designer at Leiden University’s Centre for Innovation, I help teachers, students and staff create amazing (online) learning experiences. One of these projects is the Chill Your Mind course. Over the past year I have been able to work together with Sanne, Sara and Julia, three psychology Master students, on this amazing Mindfulness project for students. 

Aurelie van't Slot, Leiden University 

The Humanities Buddy Programme (HBP) pairs groups of new international students with senior students (buddies) who familiarise them with the Faculty, University and student life in Leiden or The Hague. The programme has proven very successful in supporting successful study completion and providing peer-to-peer support. Join this session to find out more about the Humanities Buddy Programme.

András Végh, Márk Jámbor, Zsuzsanna Győrffy, Semmelweis University 

University can be a major source of stress for students. The Mentoring Programme at Semmelweis University aims to introduce first-year students to university life and provide practical, everyday advice throughout the first year of their studies, while also emphasising the importance of extracurricular activities and promoting students’ well-being. Join this session to find out more about the Mentoring Programme at Semmelweis University. 

György Purebl, Semmelweis University 

In order to cater to the needs of students of generation Z, a comprehensive student support programme was developed at Semmelweis University that incorporates peer support, and the availability of online and in-person psychological counselling, as well as skills training programmes. These activities help students to achieve better stress- and conflict-management skills, psychological resilience and increased self-awareness and so reduce the risk of future psychological problems and mental disorders. 

Gianelle Vacca, Leiden University 

The POPcorner functions as an accessible study support group where students develop skills that enhance study success and create a sense of belonging through different activities. The target group is students who, due to their background or other reasons, find it difficult to connect with their study programme and/or fellow students. Join this session to find out more about the POPcorner and what it has to offer (POPcorner FGW en POPcorner FSW).

Alexandra Blank, Anna van der Meulen, Leiden University 

The speakers provide tailored support to students at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science. The motivation for employing two coaches at LIACS was the awareness that students need different support in times of Covid-19 when ‘studying as students were used to’ was restricted. The flexible approach includes such practices as coordination of student-to-student mentoring, the setting up of intervision groups for specific target populations (e.g. students with ADHD, students working on their thesis), and individual coaching, and has been shown to be successful in improving well-being.

M.H. van den Dries, Leiden University

Engaging in archaeological activities as a volunteer activity or as entertainment is considered to contribute to the positive well-being of participants. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the question arose of whether university students conducting archaeological fieldwork as part of their university training also experienced positive well-being effects. In 2021 this was studied for the first time among students who had been restricted in their fieldwork activities for over a year due to the coronavirus pandemic; the students indicated their emotions during four moments in the course of fieldwork and subsequent work in the lab. 

Imola Sándor, Semmelweis University 

Medical education can be very challenging for students. The amount of material they need to learn, exam stress, and time pressure, as well as the burden of responsibilities and experience with traumatic situations, can be emotionally overwhelming. In this presentation you will be introduced to the student counselling service of Semmelweis University and the suggestions based on their experiences for further improvement of the medical curriculum for better health  among future health professionals. 

Dr Piroska Balog, Semmelweis 

Humania Socialisation Workshop is an elective course at Semmelweis University for medical and dental students. It combines the methodologies of different skill development trainings, socialisation programmes and clinical case discussion groups using the Bálint approach. Students engage in self-awareness, personality development and soft skills group activities. Join this session to find out more about the Humania Socialisation Workshops.

 Yvonne Bent, Leiden University 

From 2019, the taskforce on student well-being at the medical faculty of Leiden University assessed existing interventions aimed at increasing student well-being and identified bottlenecks. In the near future, Leiden University aims to further improve student well-being by supporting and ensuring the implementation of new interventions and increasing the visibility and accessibility of support. Join this session to learn more about these new interventions. 

Nadia Garnefski and Vivian Kraaij, Leiden University 

Although there is a high prevalence of mental health problems in young adults, the barriers to seeking help are high, including stigma, high costs and time issues. Moodpep was developed in 2019 as a guided online self-help programme for young adults (18+) with depressive symptoms, and has been shown to reduce symptoms with large effect sizes. It is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and includes eight lessons and four themes: activation, relaxation, changing negative cognitions, and goal attainment.

Jules Pierret and Barthélémy Jannot, University of Nantes 

Five geography students from the University of Nantes (UN) are carrying out a territorial diagnosis entitled ‘Quality of spaces and well-being of UN students: the Tertre campus as an experimental field. What avenues should be explored to promote the well-being of campus users through more inclusive educational spaces?’ Find out more about this study by joining this session. 

Sloan Kudrinko, Semmelweis University 

The purpose of the Mental Health Symposium is to emphasise the importance of mental health and awareness amongst the EUniWell communities (staff, students, and teachers alike). At this symposium, you can both learn new ideas and exchange existing ideas on how mental health is addressed in the respective universities. Through interactive activities and discussion groups with guest speakers in the field of psychiatry, physical exercise/nutrition and time management, new ideas and initiatives can be taken back to the respective universities to enhance the mental health and well-being programmes.

Pierre Malige, University of Nantes 

The FabLab of the University Institute of Technology of Nantes, named ‘The Créatelier’, brings together professors and students to share often simple but sometimes seemingly crazy projects. In their free time, passionate and creative students find the opportunity to develop personal projects and bring their ideas to life without being restricted by the technical constraints of heavy industrial machines. The students help and encourage one another to interact and make the space their home.

Pim van den Bos, University of Amsterdam

Law student Pim van den Bos faced adversity during his student life. As a result, he came to see how a change in the university’s study environment could have helped him, and perhaps many others. Through the creation of ‘The Mindfulnest’ he provides moments of calm, to achieve his bigger mission to empower students to connect with themselves. In collaboration with the University of Maastricht, he recently launched a pilot among their students. During this presentation Pim will briefly share his journey, vision and findings on his initiative and student well-being.

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