What Is Next?: Future Considerations

What Is Next?: Future Considerations

Melissa Martin (State University of New York at Plattsburgh, USA), Jean Mockry (State University of New York at Plattsburgh, USA), Alison Puliatte (State University of New York at Plattsburgh, USA), Denise A. Simard (State University of New York at Plattsburgh, USA) and Maureen E. Squires (State University of New York at Plattsburgh, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3793-9.ch006

Abstract

Because the possible problems related to mental health and well-being have been identified throughout the chapters of this book, the authors plan to implement and evaluate these strategies to help provide future directions and frameworks. This chapter describes a future research study and other explorations the authors wish to conduct. Specifically, the authors seek to measure preservice general and special educators' character dispositions (e.g., grit), and use these data to determine how to effectively help college students handle stress. Additionally, researchers hope to examine the use of technology in college classrooms to promote mindfulness. Finally, the implementation of strategies for the college classroom will be implemented and evaluated in teacher preparation coursework.
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Our Implementation Plan

Fink (2014) has identified potential strategies to promote well-being for college students through high-impact practices of learning and engagement. Fink (2014) indicates developing living-learning programs (LLPs) establishes socially supportive environments within campus residence halls. LLPs place a great deal of energy into building a sense of community within the dorms. These activities are vital for freshman transitioning to college, seeking a new social network. In our educator preparation program, we have seen the impact of building a sense of community. As we have developed and revised our programs, we have learned how essential it is for us to connect with our students immediately upon their arrival on campus and to connect to one another. Some strategies we implement include: using a cohort model for both faculty and students to progress through our 4- or 5-year programs; assigning the freshman instructor to each student as an academic advisor; looping with students for the freshman year; and incorporating community building activities and skill builders throughout the program. Each of these strategies allows teacher candidates to have a touch stone on campus within the first week of classes and helps build social and academic communities. In thinking about future considerations, we may want to research these strategies to determine if they do impact social well-being (regardless whether the student remains an education major or changes his or her major).

Social interactions and relationships and physical activity play vital roles maintaining positive mental health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) advocates college students build, “Connections with others, including involvement with campus and community activities, can help you protect your mental health. Explore opportunities through your campus student activities center and get involved in one or more of the following: Campus events; Campus clubs; Campus interest groups; Sports; Student organizations; Volunteer activities” (p. 5). The authors would also advocate for more emphasis on programs to address improving social skills, communicating effectively, promoting positive coping skills, regulating emotions, fostering better self-care, developing sleep hygiene. Finally, we would support programs to offer parents strategies to facilitate their child’s transition from high school to college. More specifically, strategies for offering emotional support and supporting college students to be resilient problem solvers.

In an effort to bring awareness and support to promoting positive mental health to the college campus, we are proposing, in collaboration of the Director of the Campus Psychological Center, to sponsor or mentor student led organizations, such as Active Minds, Inc. and JED. Active Minds is a national student led organization in which students plan and facilitate events on the college campus that focus on mental health awareness, education and advocacy. The purpose of supporting programs such as these is to remove the negative stigma around mental health and to create an environment of support and acceptance. Additionally, we have begun to collaborate with our colleagues in Student Affairs. With the support of campus leadership, we hope to participate in professional develop programs such as Mental Health First Aid.

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