In the winter of 2023, 31 college students from across the country participated in a research opportunity to elevate their voice in service of better understanding of what a nurturing campus culture without mental health stigmas could look like and how the student experience could improve if mental health was nurtured in a way that worked for students. What does it mean to be “mentally healthy”? How do students know when they are? How do they cope when they’re not? How do they nurture themselves? These are just some of the avenues of inquiry we explored.
The work included a foundation-setting survey to help us get a pulse check on student perspectives, a set of 1:1 interviews to gain a deeper view into their individual lived experiences, and a cross-college design retreat to consider and co-create better support principles, mechanisms and structures.
What follows is a rich understanding of what it means to succeed and thrive in higher education today. These insights provide valuable perspectives for faculty, staff, mental health practitioners, and policymakers to consider when developing and implementing strategies to support the mental health and well-being of students.