Student council members join the NUOVO conference to talk about student well being
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Student council members join the NUOVO conference to talk about student well being

On Thursday 2 June NUOVO brought together about thirty-five students from different student councils of the various NUOVO schools to discuss student mental health and to come up with a plan to improve the well-being and mental health of students in the next school year.

-by Ingrid Schmoutziguer, communications advisor

Commissioned by NUOVO, the NJR (National Youth Council) and Take a Step Utrecht put together an interactive programme to look at mental health from different angles. They started with a short collaborative assignment meant for the students to get to know each other a little better. Subsequently, in small groups, the students came up with a number of agreements about how they could guarantee a respectful and safe environment within their group. Then the groups dived deeper  into the content. They mapped out what feeling good about yourself and having mental health issues looks like. They then looked at mental health within school. Finally, all groups made a top five of main focus areas for next schoolyear. It was a very beautiful, valuable afternoon! Curious about what students had to say? Watch this video clip.

What is the advice our students want us to take to heart?

  1. Work together – Involve students in policy making regarding (mental) well-being at school. How? Talk to the students, discuss and test ideas, and above all, take students seriously! Who knows better what students need than students themselves? It would be even better if students could be part of the solution, by taking action improving student well-being.
  2. Pay attention to well-being and mental health and make this explicit – Make sure mental health is discussed at school. Provide lessons on mental health. This can be done by teachers, mentors, but also by experts. Teach students how the brain works, what depression is, but also what it means to feel good about yourself. And the most important? Ensure that students can experience openness with each other, but also with their teachers by creating a safe space!
  3. Make support visible and easily accessible in school – Make sure we can talk to an independent counselor/coach/psychologist. In any case, a professional with knowledge and experience in this area and someone who is bound by confidentiality. Let us know who we can talk to!
  4. Address pressure (to perform) at school – Reduce the work load and provide students with the tools to deal with pressure or setbacks at school. Students feel that it is a lot to be dealing with their own expectations as well as the expectations from school, their families and society. Help students to find peace of mind and make learning fun again!
  5. Organise activities focusing on relaxation, fun and connection – Provide activities to help students figure out their passions and talents.

We will continue this project next school year. Watch this space!