‘This topic is close to the hearts of students’

| Rense Kuipers

All UT students received an invitation to fill out a survey about their own well-being, last week. The goal of initiator Student Affairs Coaching & Counselling (SACC) is to get a complete overview of the students’ mental health situation.

The BMS research group of Psychology, Health & Technology is conducting the university-wide research. ‘It’s quite an extensive survey, which takes about twenty minutes to fill in. But that’s for a reason,’ says researcher Saskia Kelders. ‘From stress to mental issues and well-being factors, we’re trying to cover the entire spectrum. There is pressure on students, but there is also a difference in how people cope with stress. Before we jump to any conclusions, we need to know what is going on exactly.’

Anne-Marie Hoogland, a policy officer student affairs and student counsellor at SACC, shares these thoughts. ‘We only know the troubled stories of people who come to us. We want to stress that this survey is for everyone, that’s why we would like to ask everyone to fill out the questionnaire. We don’t just want to assume things, we want to know things that we can act on.’

The survey will be open for at least three more weeks. Questions go very much into detail, like how much time they spend on projects, if someone identifies as part of the LGBT community or whether they would like to get help through a (new) Buddy system. ‘We will not look at results on an individual, but on a group level. We’ll make sure there are no privacy issues,’ assures Kelders. Hoogland adds: ‘It’s quite useful that we’re getting detailed information. We have a working group with all disciplines concerning study counselling involved. The more data we have, the better we can make plans and policies based on that data.’

‘Doing something that helps the university community’

Four bachelor students of Psychology are aiding Saskia Kelders in her research. They are making the research part of their own bachelor thesis. One of them is Jonathan Laatsch. ‘I’m looking into the connection between cannabis use and stress. My hypothesis is that the more stress students experience, the more likely it is that they engage in cannabis use.’ Laatsch is glad to be involved in the UT wide research. ‘I also helped to design the survey. I think it’s a very important topic and I feel I’m doing something that matters, that helps the university community.’

The first results should be in before the summer. Already about a thousand students have completed the survey. ‘This is a topic that is close to the hearts of students,’ says Kelders. ‘It shows that they want their voices to be heard.’