Since the Healthy Minds Network began their population-level survey of post-secondary student mental health, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of college students experiencing depression and/or anxiety. In the 2021-2022 academic year, 41% of college students experienced depression and 34% experienced anxiety. To put this in perspective, if you have 150 students in your classroom, 61 students in that room have or are experiencing depression and 51 have or are experiencing anxiety. While the vast majority of instructors are not mental health providers, all are uniquely positioned to support student mental health by creating supportive learning environments.
In their recent book Improving Learning and Mental Health in the College Classroom, authors Robert Eaton, Steven V. Hunsaker, and Bonnie Moon discuss why student experiences of anxiety and depression should matter to instructors and provide strategies that can be implemented to support students in meaningful and healthy ways. Their “aim is to provide a series of practical and strategic teaching tips grounded in sound psychological and pedagogical research that helps college professors teach in a way that not only helps more students with depression and anxiety succeed but enables all our students to engage more, and even thrive” (p. 19).
The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) program within CITL will host a fall reading group for instructors around the book Improving Learning and Mental Health in the College Classroom. Meetings will be held on the Bloomington campus from 9:00-10:30 a.m. on the following Wednesdays: September 13 and October 11. The final meeting will be held virtually from 9:00-10:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 9, 2023 with upcoming SoTL speaker, Sarah Lipson. Participants will receive a complimentary copy of the book. If you are an IUB instructor of any rank interested in joining the book group and can commit to attending all three of these meetings, please fill out the brief application form no later than Friday, August 11, 2023.
In these sessions we will discuss not only the text, but reflect on the following five questions:
- What are you trying to accomplish with this policy, assignment, or pedagogy?
- In what ways might the practice help or hinder learning for students with mental health challenges?
- How effective is the practice in helping students learn?
- How can the practice be modified to increase learning while reducing psychological costs?
- What other practices could be used instead to accomplish the same learning goals?
To learn more about this topic, see the IU CareCard. Interviews with authors Robert Eaton and Bonnie Moon as well as SoTL speaker, Sarah Lipson, can be found on the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast.