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03 March 2022

University-wide survey seeks to explore student wellbeing

It is hoped that the survey will prove a benchmark for future work on student mental health.

Wellbeing & Personal Effectiveness Image

If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate that would like to take part in the King’s Wellbeing survey, click here.

The King’s Wellbeing Survey, led by the What Works team in Widening Participation and with input from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), launched on 23 February 2022 and is open to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The questions have been designed to gather information about student life at the university, including daily routines, quality of life, social connections, and general wellbeing, with the hope that the results will provide a fully representative and accurate picture of the student experience. This will allow King’s to focus improvements in the right areas to support student wellbeing and measure the impact of changes.

The creation of the survey presented several challenges, particularly when it came to producing an accurate definition of ‘wellbeing’. Over the course of several sessions and a thorough review of the available literature, the team settled on “the ability of an individual to fully exercise their cognitive, emotional, physical, and social powers, leading to flourishing”.

“This survey represents a vital piece of work for the university, setting a benchmark against which we’ll measure our future efforts. It will allow us to gather crucial information about student wellbeing and learn how to help them to thrive at university. The findings will guide our student resources and support systems and ultimately improve student wellbeing - a priority for us as an institution.”

Professor Juliet Foster, Dean of Education at King’s IoPPN

The creation of the survey also provided an opportunity for student involvement. Joel Bates, who is undertaking an MSc in the Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health at the IoPPN, interned with the What Works team and helped to shape the survey.

Joel said, “I’m particularly interested in hearing the voices of those from the LGBTQ+ community. We can only provide support if we know where it is that people feel unsupported, but so far these individuals have often been underrepresented in research and it’s resulted in there being unmet needs within a significant minority of people.

“It was an incredible opportunity, and I’m proud to have played a part in this.”

How is King’s supporting student wellbeing?

Happy student studying

The university continues to work towards being a leading institution for student wellbeing. It’s currently in the process of updating the Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which has already driven a large number of positive changes. This includes the introduction of a new dedicated team of Wellbeing and Welfare Advisors who work closely with faculties, the Student Union, and support services across King’s to ensure that students and staff have access to assistance. It has also launched Pro-counselling, a 24/7 telephone service to ensure students can access out-of-hours counselling.

Ongoing research efforts are seeking to better understand the impact of the pandemic on student mental health. The King’s College London Coronavirus Health and Experiences of Colleagues at King’s study (KCL CHECK) consists of a series of surveys about physical health, mental wellbeing, and experiences to investigate how the pandemic has affected King’s staff and postgraduate research students. These surveys, which are completed fortnightly, continue to provide a detailed picture of how the King’s community has fared at different stages of the pandemic, and to better understand which interventions have been successful in providing support.

The IoPPN is also leading the Student Mental Health Research Network (SMaRteN), a national research network funded by UK Research and Innovation which focuses efforts on understanding and supporting student mental health. So far, it has funded 19 projects to study student mental health and evaluate how new interventions, such as peer study groups, arts-based workshops, and teaching approaches, can improve student wellbeing.

SMaRteN is now inviting students to work with researchers to share their findings with a student audience via their new student mental health podcast series ‘Keeping Students in Mind’. The first episode of the podcast launched today to celebrate University Mental Health Day 2022.

The findings for this survey will form the basis for ongoing work into this area. The university is currently working towards the Student Minds’ University Mental Health Charter, a framework which sets out evidence-based principles to help universities strengthen mental health support for students and staff. The Charter was developed in collaboration with thousands of university staff and students and recognises universities that promote good mental health. 

Professor Foster concludes, “The promotion of student wellbeing is a key priority for all universities right now. Our ultimate aim is to lead the sector and work with others on best practice. The institutional level data that this survey will provide will help us to pinpoint those areas where there is the greatest need and help us to achieve that goal.”

The King’s Wellbeing Survey is open until March 13th. To take part, click here.

In this story

Juliet Foster New

Dean of Education