Quality of Facilities and Learning Resources

How to support students' mental health and wellbeing

Dr. Laura Dowling

Education & Training | Leadership | Professional Development | Organizational Development | Healthcare Administration

February 22nd 2022 - Greater Philadelphia

Supporting Students' Mental Health and Wellbeing in Higher Education: A Comprehensive Discussion

The video "How to Support Students' Mental Health and wellbeing" delves into the critical topic of mental health within the context of higher education. It features a panel of distinguished experts who provide valuable insights and recommendations on this pressing issue. In this comprehensive video description, we will break down the key points discussed in the video, highlighting the panelists' perspectives, strategies, and suggestions for addressing mental health challenges among university students.

Panel Introduction

The video opens with an introduction to the World Higher Education Ranking Summit (WHERS), emphasizing the importance of mental health in education. The moderator, Angelica, introduces the esteemed panelists:

  1. Dr. Laura Dowling: A healthcare expert with 20 years of experience in healthcare administration and 15 years as a professor in higher education, Dr. Dowling specializes in neuroscience, motivation, emotion, and leadership. She is also the executive director of the Nurse's Digital Learning Association.

  2. Professor Roose's Quintet Arago: Hailing from Spain, Professor Arago is a renowned expert in leadership, entrepreneurship, project management, organizational behavior, and marketing research. She teaches a diverse range of business courses at various international institutions.

  3. Dr. Georgia Bedford: A visiting lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Bedford brings years of teaching experience across top-ranking universities. Her expertise encompasses civil discourse, media literature, illiteracy, intercultural communication, interpersonal communication, and public speaking, among others.

  4. Timothy Markle: An advocate for mental health, Timothy Markle shares valuable insights into helping students forgive themselves for failure and fostering a positive mindset.

  5. Ruth Fuente: Ruth Fuente discusses the identification of mental health issues and shares her experiences in addressing these challenges within the classroom.

Understanding the Scope of Mental Health Issues

The panelists begin by shedding light on the staggering statistics related to mental health issues. Dr. Laura Dowling highlights the prevalence of mental health conditions, especially among youth and adults, emphasizing the need to consider unreported cases. She underscores the urgency of addressing these issues due to their far-reaching implications.

Identifying and Managing Mental Health Issues

Ruth Fuente stresses the importance of recognizing the difference between normal stress and chronic anxiety or depression. She advocates for teachers to proactively ask students about their well-being to create a supportive atmosphere in the classroom.

Timothy Markle discusses the cumulative impact of stress and anxiety on students' mental health, especially in high-achieving academic environments. He emphasizes the need for early intervention and coping strategies.

Dr. Georgia Bedford highlights the role of mindset and the stigma surrounding mental health issues, which often deter students from seeking help. She also addresses the challenges faced by students who have been stigmatized in the past, making them hesitant to declare their mental health needs.

Dr. Laura Dowling delves into the neurological aspects of mental health, explaining how early-life experiences affect brain development. She emphasizes neuroplasticity as a key to change and calls for early intervention.

Normalizing Conversations and Seeking Help

The panelists discuss the importance of normalizing conversations about mental health to reduce stigma. Timothy Markle emphasizes the uniqueness and inherent worth of every individual, emphasizing the importance of self-forgiveness and growth.

Dr. Georgia Bedford encourages a shift in mindset by viewing mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth, rather than as failures. She suggests addressing societal pressure and competition in education.

Ruth Fuente shares her approach of allowing students to have a say in their assignments and projects, giving them a sense of control and empowerment.

Dr. Laura Dowling discusses the integration of mental health discussions into course curricula to create awareness and reduce stigma. She also advocates for real-time events and community-building activities to promote mental health awareness.

Access to Resources and Addressing Barriers

The panelists discuss the need to improve access to mental health resources. Dr. Laura Dowling suggests leveraging technology and data analytics to monitor students' mental health and provide timely support. Timothy Markle emphasizes the importance of identifying and removing barriers to access, especially for marginalized groups.

Dr. Georgia Bedford addresses the specific challenges faced by first-generation students who are working while studying, highlighting the need for flexibility and understanding.

Ruth Fuente emphasizes the importance of talking openly about mental health to encourage individuals to seek help when needed. She also underscores the need for information dissemination to bridge gaps in accessing resources.

Incorporating Mental Health into University Rankings

The panelists agree that mental health awareness and support should be incorporated into university ranking systems. They argue that this would encourage institutions to prioritize mental health initiatives and reduce the existing stigma surrounding the topic.


The video discussion on supporting students' mental health and wellbeing in higher education underscores the urgency of addressing mental health challenges among university students. The panelists provide valuable insights into identifying, managing, and normalizing conversations about mental health. They also stress the importance of improving access to resources and integrating mental health awareness into curricula. Ultimately, they call for the inclusion of mental health considerations in university rankings to promote positive change in the education system.

Speakers Info


Dr. Laura Dowlin Adjunct Professor, Adult & Organizational Development at Temple University College of Education and Human Development

With over 17 years of experience in teaching, coaching, healthcare operations, and revenue cycle management consulting, Dr. Laura Dowling is a passionate and versatile educator and leader in the fields of healthcare administration, professional development, organizational development, and leadership studies. Currently serving as an adjunct professor at Temple University, Goldey-Beacom College, and Gwynedd Mercy University, Dr. Dowling designs and delivers engaging and relevant courses on various topics related to healthcare administration, healthcare policy, healthcare compliance, organizational behavior, dynamics, and change.


Dr. Georgia Bedford Acting Associate Director William Pitt Debating Union (WPDU)/Visiting Lecturer at University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Georgia Bedford possesses a unique combination of educational leadership experience across prestigious institutions, including the University of Pittsburgh, Slippery Rock University, Robert Morris University, Penn State, and Duquesne University. Her background also includes robust business acumen, with roles as a Consulting COO, Project Manager, and Director of Communications. She excels at leveraging her extensive education and business experiences to coordinate and administer academic programs while implementing strategic plans independently and in collaboration with diverse stakeholders.


Timothy Markle Founder & Director of Forgiveness Factor

Timothy Markle is an experienced Outreach Specialist with a proven track record in the higher education industry. He possesses a diverse skill set, including expertise in Nonprofit Organizations, Crisis Intervention, Autism, and other Developmental Disabilities. His commitment to community and social services is unwavering, and he is the visionary Founder and speaker behind Forgiveness Factor.


Ruth Fuente Founder of Teach & Coach Consulting

I am Ruth Fuente, a psychologist and professional coach specializing in helping women entrepreneurs start their own businesses. With over 10 years of experience in Human Resources and as a teacher in business schools, I have developed a unique set of skills to help women overcome the obstacles that come with starting a business.

Session Script: How to support students' mental health and wellbeing


Angelika Sharygina
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm very honored to welcome you to the very first World Higher Education Ranking Summit that brings together the world's brightest minds in higher education. And today's topic is super crucial because mental health is the foundation of everything. And today's topic is How can universities support students' mental health? Just before it's a very exciting 45 minutes panel. And what we would love you to do is to ask questions in the chat box, and we'll make sure that the panelists will be able to answer those questions. This is the very first WHERS conference. And it's going to be a very exciting panel that will contribute to changes in the system of education. So let me, first of all, introduce our honoree panelists.

Today we're very privileged to be joined by leaders in their fields, people that truly care about issues of mental health mentors, supporters, and student advocates, who are here with us today. And let me first introduce you to Dr. Laura Dowling. She has 20 years of healthcare experience in healthcare administration and 15 years of experience as a professor in higher education with expertise in neuroscience, neuroscience of motivation, emotion, and leadership. Dr. Laura is also executive director of the nurse's Digital Learning Association. And if you have any questions about Dr. Laura while she's speaking and you would like to touch with her touch base with her after the conference, please do not hesitate to write in the chat box. Well, then I would like to introduce you to Professor Roose's quintet Arago which joins us from Spain today. Professor of leadership entrepreneurship project management, organizational behavior, and marketing research different business goals such as technological demand today normoxia Business School, United International Business School, and others from Mexico, Spain, France, and Mongolia. She's teaching a bachelor's, master's MBA, and Executive Education.

I'm very honored to welcome our next panelist, Dr. Georgia Bedford. She's a visiting lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh with years of teaching experience for top-ranking universities throughout the Pittsburgh area. Your professional repertoire includes providing instruction in civil discourse, media literature, illiteracy, intercultural communication, interpersonal communication, and public speaking, to name many others. And Dr. Georgia she is a well-known mentor, student mentor, a member of assessment and curriculum committee committees, and she is happy to join us today. And I would like to welcome you to this panel. Extraordinary founder Michael Tumaco is director of the forgiveness factor. The forgiveness factor exists to promote forgiveness as a way to leave mentally well. And as we all know, forgiveness is good for People of all ages and especially for students that control lots of stress during their studies. And I would love to learn more about the forgiveness factor and how this organization helps us around the world to control their anxiety and depression through a very interesting methodology, simple forgiveness. And I would like to give the word to Dr. Laura, that has some insights and would like to point out why this topic is crucial in what is going on with the world and wealth situation within the area of mental health.

Mantel health issues and its impact in students health

Dr. Laura Dowling
Thank you, Angelica. The statistics on mental health are staggering. There's a ripple effect with mental health issues. If we look at the big picture, facts, and figures regarding people that get treatment, as currently reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness in the United States, remember this does not include unreported issues. 51% of youth ages six to 17 have a mental health condition. 45% of adults are diagnosed with a mental illness, 66% with a serious mental illness. The average delay between symptom onset and treatment is a staggering 11 years 21% of homeless people have a serious mental illness. 37% of incarcerated people have a mental illness. 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have at least one mental health condition. One in eight ER visits is related to mental health and substance abuse disorder. Worldwide depression This is global is the leading cause of disability.

Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion a year in lost productivity. Suppose we zero in on college stats. Many students come to us in higher ed with mental issues with little indication that there is an issue. Pre pandemic statistics for mental health in the college atmosphere are as follows 12% of students report depression, 19.7% report anxiety, 27.9% report stress 19.4% reports sleep difficulties. It's important to understand that these conditions are often co-occurring, resulting in a staggering 79% of students coming to class that is experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and or difficulty sleeping. They are expected to learn and perform, and worse, expected to teach 2020 college that's post-pandemic indicate 80% of students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities as a student, 50% struggle with anxiety because of school pressure, 30% attribute their struggle due to a mental health issue. Most professors are ill-prepared. They are not trained on how to recognize mental issues and students or how to help. Most students muddle through and enter the workforce with mental health conditions again at a global cost of 1.8 trillion in last productivities. It's interesting to note that stateside in the United States, professors are required to take annual Title Nine sexual harassment training; we need required training for mental health as a first step.

Thank you so much, Dr. Laura. Unfortunately, this information is really heartbreaking because we have a real problem at the institutional level. And my question is to everyone on this panel, what do you think needs to be done to control these mental health issues at universities and help identify them early when it didn't go too far?

Control and identify mental health issues in universities

Ruth Fuente
Well, I think the first of the things that we need to do we start talking about stress or anxiety or something normal. It's not normal to live under this is these feelings. We need to understand that, and our students need to understand that That is not normal to live all day long with stress with anxiety is normal when you have a little bit of stress because you're going to present that exam or you're going to present a project, but not all day long. Okay, so that's, that's the first thing I need; I think we need to understand we all need to understand. As teachers, not all of us have the skills of having knowledge about how to identify or how manage these feelings of our students. One thing I usually do, or I always do, when I start a course is to get to know my students. And one of the questions I always ask is, how do you feel today?

And that question is really exchanged for them. You see the faces of the students; I'm just like, you're asking me that. It's not usual for them to listen, someone interested in how you feel. And most of them tell me I feel good. Okay, but let me understand what is good for you. And then some things start going out, okay, I feel good. But the weather is not giving me. Well, I feel good, but I feel tired, it's good, I feel good. But I have different things that make me a bee feel a little bit of stress. So, I need to know how they feel, in order to help them inside my class, how to manage the situation in order to really get give them what they need to really understand what I'm trying to teach them. Okay, not only that, the concepts but also trying to help them in those moments, to feel out or to capture their attention to the things or the topics that we want to manage in a way that they can fall down their level of stress and liberal anxiety, live everything outside the class and try to participate or to feel enjoyable in an environment or an environment of confidence. You could they can check out almost everything, not only the topic that we are trying to talk about, love.

Timothy Markle
I love the idea that it's not just a single episode that we're dealing with. We're dealing with this cumulative stress, this cumulative anxiety, that happens over a lifetime. And so we're getting students at the college level that have maybe had maladaptive, not healthy ways to deal with stress, to deal with anxiety to deal with when things go wrong. I mean, how many of our students come to hire university because there are some of the best and the brightest? And then they get to campus. And they're among students that are also the best and the brightest. And so, this outstanding student now is realizing that not everything is going to come easy for me; I'm not at the top of everything anymore. Well, that can be a wake-up call for some of our students, and they're not sure how to deal with not being number one. And how, what does that mean for who I am? And so that caught that contributing stress of one thing after another after another, that the professor may not see it, until they have that straw, so to speak, that breaks the camel's back is that that professor that is dealing with a student who just got overwhelmed by everything. And the professor sitting there going, it's just a test. It's just one exam, not understanding everything that has built up to that student, not being able to complete that exam or that paper. And so, trying to help professors understand the bigger picture of the college student's life is important.

Dr. Laura Dowling
Tim, that's a very important point that you bring up this cumulative effect. Because of the stress response, the anxiety, the depression, and the wiring neurologically in the brain begin to form at conception and continue to develop in utero and change through birth and your life experience. So we'd have early, deeply encoded memory that perseveres over time and then influences behavior later in life. So just a little bit of information here, the fetus lives in an undifferentiated state and absorbs the mother and father's emotions and belief systems. We find that the central nervous system's limbic system, which is the seat of our emotion, is partially mature at four weeks of gestation and fully formed by the third trimester. This is, goosebumps. The limbic system, neurologically the brain, the hypothalamus, amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, and basal ganglia, records emotions and behavior necessary for Bible and is involved in memory storage and retrieval. The cerebral cortex at the higher order of thinking that's supposed to bounce this emotion is functioning at 32 weeks of gentle gestation. So folks with anxiety and depression have lots of limbic system activity. The good news is neuroplasticity; the blank brain's ability to change tells us there's so much we can do. And we can do it early.

Dr. Georgia Bedford
I think that we can build upon a couple of the points made by everyone. We're dealing with a few things mindset and having the stigmas that are associated with mental health disorders. And that can discourage students from coming forward to even acknowledge within themselves that they have something going on, then they're much less likely to approach a professor who might perceive them as not hard-working, or just wanting to be an exception. And I've had students approach me and tell me that this professor would not work with them. We have a lot of autonomy as professors. And we have rules, which is the second factor that guides us in terms of when we have a student that has a declared disability, which means they have come forward. And they've acknowledged that they have a need for supportive services. But then we also have those who are afraid to come forward or who have been stigmatized through the K through 12, or the secondary system, specifically.

And they're less likely to declare at the higher education level because they have been through many experiences at those lower levels that have identified them or marginalized them for having a mental health disorder. And so if we can tackle the mindset, both in the student and within higher education, and that crosses a lot of roles, aside from professors that's a starting point, because we have to give students license to, to normalize the discussion about it. It is not normal, as Ruth has said, for them to experience this all day long. But we have not normalized the conversation about whether this is something that we're experiencing in mass versus isolation, feeling isolated and strange or different, because you're experiencing something like this. And I think the other point that Dr. Laura has mentioned has to do with building upon these learning experiences; we are building traumas into the lives of students through the high test standardized testing environment, where they are required to be perfect in every subject. And that is what is not normal.

We all have gifts and abilities. We all have talents and affinities and for students to be expected to perform at the same level across all subject areas. First of all, it doesn't help them identify where their talents are. But secondly, that does begin to build in a certain trauma every time; they're forced to do something that they're not good at and come to that realization that I'm expected to be the best, and I'm not the best. And then they go to higher education, where it's even more competitive. So I think we have a lot of areas where training is important. But we also societally need to recognize that these are discussions that we need to be having, not just across, not just in terms of students, but our perceptions that we are passing on these kinds of projected identities to people that have mental health illnesses as being strange or abnormal, or having something wrong with you, especially if you do seek support.

Dr. Laura Dowling
Oh, I'm sorry. That's really an important point. And I just want to share a recent experience I had with a student last semester who came to class; she was good. Sometimes I noticed that she was sleeping a lot. She started to not do well. And I asked her, hey, Andrew, tell me what's going on so I can help you. This isn't a public speaking class; not hard. So she described a lot of what was going on in her personal life, and she was stressed, and She had a lot of anxiety. And I said I asked her, Why aren't you going for accommodations? For support? And her answer to me was, I don't want to use it as a crutch. And I said, Andrea, if you had a broken ankle, would you use crutches, and she said, Of course, I would use crutches. And I could see the light bulb go on. So they're afraid to ask for help. It's so sad because of a lot of what George is saying; here, this astigmatism is still prevalent. But if you look at this these statistics, there are more folks that are not normal than our normal. So it kind of doesn't make sense.

I agree with that. And I also believe that we need to really begin to examine our language, normal versus not normal, and begin approaching this as not just an epidemic, but a part of the human condition. Because we're living in a society where we have all of these pressures. And we're, we're in an individualistic culture here, where we're taught you stand on your own, you take responsibility, you be the best and the brightest, and you you seek at every turn, to overcome any challenge. And sometimes, that's just not possible. And we kind of jokingly refer to mental health days, professionally, when we need a day off to kind of cope with everything that's going on, and more and more, this is a part of who we are as human beings. So I think that that is an important part of this looking at the language that we're using and referring to mental health.

Angelika Sharygina
Thank you. So that's a really good point. And it's so important to normalize this and contrast the stigma that currently exists in academia, in society everywhere. And as we see, the situation is getting worse day by day if we do not control this. And I have another question. Terms of well-being and mental health are quite unclear. And would you agree that universities right now, around the world, not only in the US or in Spain, differ in terms of the service models, without any systematic evaluation, and that coordinated, there is no collaborative data that is gathered to see and to account to actually measure the effectiveness of current practices to support the mental health of students? While maybe I'm wrong, and there is certain progress in this, and universities work together, what do you think should be done to improve the situation?

Measuring the effectiveness of current practices to support the mental health of students

Dr. Laura Dowling
I'll jump in here, Angelica, because you're 100%. Right, there's very little in the way of data. Okay. However, there is an opportunity; we are not leveraging technology and data analytics to get a handle on this. So there are several apps available for mental health and stress. We all have them on our cell phones. We need to roll that into mental health; we should be able to, through an app, us be able to understand the state of our students quickly. And that app should be able to capture data across the classroom across the university and then through universities. What are the major problems occurring? What are the major experiences? And if we have insight into what's happening in real-time, we can agilely adjust to help. And I think

Timothy Markle
that use of data is so important as we look at what then how do we then connect those people that are struggling with the resources that are available. And that's the app or this idea of connectedness is, is this idea of not only have we identified that there's something going not exactly right, going a little hard that you're struggling? But let's then bring in, so why don't you consider this? Or did this was available, or you can call this or text us here is that it's that immediate, you're struggling? Here's something you can do about it that I really like about that technology can also help bridge that gap.

Dr. Georgia Bedford
I think we also have to look at when a student is the real-time experience of when a student is experiencing something, and I've had students that have had to leave because of hospitalizations. And I'm approached by another student, a friend of theirs, who takes it upon themselves to contact that person's professors and let them know and try to coordinate this person is taking some time off, or this is what's happening, we need a way to provide them with the appropriate information. If you're experiencing something, this is where you go. And I build that language right into my syllabus. And that's my first attempt to say this is something that isn't just strange or different. This is something that is happening. And if this does occur, this is where you can go or another language that says, approached me early approached me often talk to me as something's going on. So making myself open as a professor. So I think there are a couple of angles data is certainly one of them. But in real-time, when someone experiences something, where do they go? What do they do? Who do they talk to? And then what does that professor's response? How should they coordinate that? So we need, terms of coordinate coordinating services, we need to have some structure so that not only the student but the professor has a way to respond to that. And to provide that support as well.

Ruth Fuente
Also, there are universities that have some strategies or some scales or some resources for students or other teachers, but the communication and the way they transmit to the community are not correct. So there are people that know about the services, and there are people that don't know about that services; for example, I know a university that is implementing coaching services for our students get to help them talk with any issue that they have. But most of the students don't know about this service. And so we are implementing something really great, but nobody knows about it. So how are they going to approach our services if we don't give them enough information or enough channels to contact the services?

Dr. Laura Dowling
That's a good point, Ruth. And I think we have certain courses that are required of every student. At one of the universities, I teach public speaking as required by every student; every student also takes one, of course, early on freshman year on student orientation. That is the time to give them some basic education on what this mental health is, not feel bad, and where you go for help, so build it into the programs programmatically; in my public speaking course, the first assignment is speech anxiety. And that gives me the opportunity, and I present a whole 45-minute lecture on the neuroscience of stress and anxiety and what you can do about it, tears. Some of the students came to me in tears. And this sets them on a trajectory; I'm going to figure out where I can go for help. So it just has to be very visible and transparent.

Timothy Markle
Love that because that starts to normalize. The fact that people struggle is that it's not okay; there's maybe one or two of you in this orientation that you may encounter some difficulties; no, a majority of the people in that orientation class are going to encounter mental health difficulties, they're going to need to reach out for help. And so that normalization, that this is just common practice, is that we all reach out for help and figure out how to do that. Now different groups are going to need different messages and going to need different pathways into that help. Not everybody's going to just pick up that cell phone and call, or they're not just going to text. But that whole normalization, that you're not alone is that this is hard. And that there are resources available to help you when it gets too hard for what you're already doing is you're already using your coping, you're already using your support system. But sometimes it's not enough. And so we have the resources to help one. It's just not enough.

Dr. Laura Dowling
As simple as all you need is earbuds and your cell phone, binaural beats rewire the brain, and in my classes, every class, as they're coming in, I have a binaural beat on for anxiety and depression. And you can almost see the change physically. And I hope that it's creating some synaptic connections neurologically, but the students know I'm approachable, and that's a key factor. They know they can say listen, and I’ve had them, I'm stressed, I got the anxiety. I don't know what to do. Okay. Let's talk about it. And let's see what your next steps are.

Dr. Georgia Bedford
I think we're all just really passionate about this because we're seeing it in real-time. And the other part of this is, as I mentioned before, that professors have a lot of autonomy, but they don't always know how to deal with a situation that is emerging. So when a student is starting to miss class, part of it is the training, which we mentioned, and learning how to identify these things. But when a student actually comes forward and says I'm really struggling, I'm overwhelmed, I have a lot of other classes, and I'm falling behind in my assignments. And, I'm wondering if I can have extra time? Or can I is there anything that we can do, because I've missed so many assignments? So we have to think about how we deal with this; when we have a student who is struggling, they have fallen behind, and we have advanced in the semester.

And we have to ask ourselves, how do we approach this? Do we force them to now go back and complete everything that they've missed getting rid of perhaps the belief that it is a failure, in terms of our expectations and requirements, to make adjustments or accommodations ourselves within that environment? And I oftentimes find myself saying, well, let's figure out how you can demonstrate this particular requirement or meet this outcome in a different way than perhaps what is on the syllabus. And according to that design, and so I have flexibility. And I have to make the decision, am I going to hold them accountable for everything that is leading them to feel that anxiety and struggle? Or can I? Or should I make adjustments within the classroom in terms of my expectations? So, meaning obligations and responsibilities is as a factor in the onset of anxiety or the worsening of an existing condition? What can we do? Or what should we do and respond to that?

Angelika Sharygina
This is an excellent point. Just one thing that I wanted to mention here, it's so incredible that you all speak about such a major thing, the change that has to be institutional. However, this change starts from a very personal approach. And I think this is something that we can summarize in this, that change in controlling this outdated old school approach to mental health and stigma around it can be really done only through every single professor, every single member of a staff member of faculty, and only through each of one of everyone who's listening to this now watching this right now, this is absolutely incredible because only one simple question can change the whole system. How do you feel and make that absolutely vocal make that normal to ask every student that comes to your class, and I think this is a brilliant, brilliant approach? And I wanted to ask Tim about your forgiveness factor, the organization that you started; we've just talked about how students are really harsh on themselves. And this notion of failure can actually be devastating to them. How do you help students forgive themselves for that?

How students can forgive themselves for failure

Timothy Markle
So one of the ways that we help students we start with the fact that we help the student realize that they are unique, special, irreplaceable individual and that there is no one that's ever going to be like them. And that just because they are, they have inherent worth. And so, if we would give that inherent worth to others, we also need to give that inherent worth to ourselves. And then it goes back to what we've been talking about. We normalize failure is we say, yeah, you've messed up, but you've also grown. And so looking at not just the I've let myself down, or I've hurt somebody in my past, but guess what, what have I done since then, is I have grown since then. That is an older version of who you are. And so let's forgive that older version so that we can move on with the version we have to And also, understanding that it's not just a one-and-done is that our memories have a way of coming back and literally attacking us at the worst times a song comes on, or you see somebody in the street, and all of a sudden, you're back to that mistake that you made as a sophomore in high school and, and you're feeling all those emotions again. And so also key is identifying that you're feeling that identifying what that emotion is connected to? Oh, that's connected to back there.

Okay, well, what have I done about that? Oh, I've worked through that. I've made I've asked forgiveness where I needed to, I made amends the best I can. And what, everybody is not very smart at 15 years old, is they all make mistakes. And so then I can frame that feeling, identify what it came from, and tell myself that I dealt with this and that I forgave that person of myself. And then I respond to myself with loving kindness, with compassion, is that we are so hard on ourselves, we talk to ourselves, our mental words that we tell ourselves, we would never say out loud, to the people that we love. But yet, we're constantly recording them to ourselves. And so learning what that mental messages that we're telling ourselves and replacing it with mental kindness, with loving kindness, with compassion, with saying, you're okay, you're gonna get through this. You've gotten through this in the past; you're gonna get through this today. Yeah, you messed up; well, guess what? Everybody messes up.

And that doesn't define who you are; we're more than just our worst mistakes. We are everything in our life, all the good, all the bad. All of us are this mixture, this messiness that comes with life. And so coming, that realization, then says, what, I am no better or worse than anybody else, I have inherent worth just because of being, it's not what I do, but it's who I am, just because of being. And then let's move forward with this consciousness with this awareness that I could do this, that I can conquer, whatever comes in front of me. So that's what we help students realize.

Dr. Georgia Bedford
Because we do as a society, we place a lot of emphasis on competition and comparing ourselves to others. And students get into this mindset that, I'm not doing as well as this body of students or this person. And one thing I talked to my students about is viewing their experiences, not our mistakes, but something that they learn from, but we have to deal with this concept of, messing up and making mistakes, to get rid of this belief that we can't make up for that we can't go back, we can't now, we, some students will view one bad performance on an exam, for example, or an assignment as something that has just ruined the possibility of succeeding, and they give up. So we have to find ways to look at our own expectations of them and help them to reconceptualize what it means to go through this process because you're very young. And as you said, something might come up from previous trauma, and traumas tend to build upon each other. So if we start to talk about these things, and one is, look, this is something that happened, nothing is impossible to overcome. If you view it differently, and you speak about it differently.

Dr. Laura Dowling
How we see it, our perception is key, and are we in React, chatter, chatter, or awareness and respond, right, Tim?

Ruth Fuente
One thing I do, according to about a percent of what we need or expect from our students, I change it. I give them the power to tell me what they are going to give to me at the end of the class, and I present a project we need to do this thing, but do decide which approach you're going to take you this side. How did you get in? You're the one that is deciding what you're going to give to me at the quad you want to learn about this topic that we are working on. And when you see those final projects are really interesting. Most of them are areas of their own to be able to put into practice in real life. So that's really exciting because the power is of insight out of them. They are responsible persons who are going to work on that. It's not To me; I'm just giving them the tools and the guidelines in order to start doing something. But in the end, they decide how, when, and how and how they are going to do this, this works. And that and that's the moment when they start learning when they start to take the knowledge into practice.

Dr. Laura Dowling
I love that I do a lot of that too. My public speaking class is interesting. Sixty students last semester, some 50. This semester, in their second deliverable speech, they chose the topic. And 90% of the topics the students choose and present are around mental health if you can believe.

Angelika Sharygina
Wow, this is not unbelievable because this is something that is really deep down there hidden, and they had this opportunity to vocalize it. And this is like a scream to help. This is a very interesting thing, Dr. Laura, and I see everyone in this panel there; you guys are working so hard to implement the change on your personal level in your society in your community. I have a question regarding communities that are in minority groups. I have a question regarding the community that does not have access to this information. And this was one of the biggest problems that you've actually talked about during this today's panel is that people do not have access to those resources. So resources exist, and information and help are there. But how do we actually get it to those that do not have access? Do you not have information about it? How do we help those that are in the biggest? Actually difficulty? The ones that are minorities, the ones that are in crisis regions? What do you think?

The availability of information and resources to the communities and minorities

Ruth Fuente
I think one way is talking about the topics. Because if you start talking about these topics, people are going to make a match with the things that they are living. So at that moment, they are going to be more open, and they are going to be able to start looking and start asking others how I can manage my situation. But the problem is that we don't talk about this, we don't talk about strength, we talk about depression, we don't talk about that, that you are feeling, feeling the failure as something that is really terrible to your life, and you are not going to be able to continue. We don't talk about that. If we talk more about that, people that are passing through these situations are going to be like, Oh, that's me, that could that's me, I need help. You're talking about this, okay? I take this idea; I will go over there. We all have access, and we all have the tools to get in touch with these people that can help us, or even if it is not inside the universities, even if it's not inside our educational community, we have resources outside. But the problem is that we don't talk about it. So we don't make those much. We don't make those aha moments where we say, okay, that's me, I can't have help. So I'm going to start talking with those that are talking about myself in the same language. So I can start looking for that help. Absolutely.

Dr. Laura Dowling
I love that, Ruth. But here's another way. Okay, it's very simple. Okay, I do a lot of course design. You need to integrate this into every course in some form or fashion. Basic finance could have a question on financing mental health and integrating it into it programmatically so that there's awareness. Okay, there's awareness, and the community helps. There's a lot I do a thought leadership branding clubhouse event every Thursday at 11 On another topic. And this is a live event in real time where their people can just pop in and have conversations. So we need to create community, real-time events like that and start pushing it out. Everybody's pushing everything out on LinkedIn and other social media. Start pushing this stuff out and guide students; I share my stuff with my students. Hey, you're on Facebook; check out this group. One of them has source messages that I love every day; you get a beautiful morning prayer, very positive mindset stuff. And that repetition rewires the brain. Tim, I see you shaking and Ruth and Georgia.

Timothy Markle
Well, it said I love that rewiring of the brain. And I can't wait to hear from Georgia as well. But the other thing that comes to mind as we talk about access is figuring out what those barriers are and acknowledging that our students that are struggling just sometimes to get into college and then to find acceptance in college when they have a disability; we've already then put another barrier in front of them to getting help, in that they have to declare in the United States, they have to declare they have a disability, and they have to go to certain places for help. And so what if, in George's case that you brought up earlier, what if that professor had the freedom to take care of any student's mental health by adapting the assignment by giving extra time by giving extra support by meeting extra, not just because they had a signed off form from the Disability Resource Center, but because they were a student, and in So normalizing that experience with everybody giving that power to the professor's have that autonomy, to be able to to help each and every student will then hopefully those students that because we know that because of intersectionality, is that you can layer up all these struggles that you have. And so let's start deconstructing those and figure out how our systems are, putting those barriers in place for our students with disabilities, and our students with disabilities with color, or maybe first-generation college students who are also going to be struggling. Yeah, so let's, let's see if we can, can get rid of some of those barriers.

Dr. Georgia Bedford
I think in terms of access to when you're dealing with various communities, some of we have a number of issues that are sub-issues that fall into the range of discussion, but we're not really able to address them at this point during this panel. But some of these students have been disproportionately impacted by school policies that have identified them and put them into a certain category. And they are behaving in certain ways that are normal, but it's not recognized as normal when it comes to a certain student of a particular race or ethnicity. And so there is an embarrassment, and there is hesitance, or sometimes these students are told that they're making excuses, or that they, they just don't want to work hard. And so there's a perception. And that's part of it. The other part is when in terms of access. Some of these students, such as first-generation students, they're working while they're in school, and they don't have time to worry about their mental health. They are just trying to they're skimming the surface of survival. And they're coming to class, sometimes completely exhausted, having worked multiple hours, and they're struggling to get through their assignments. And they literally don't have the time or the energy to deal with the issue of how am I feeling? That's a luxury for them. So I think, yeah, yeah, I think there are so many offshoots. And I think if we could compile some of the associated issues, because I think issues of access as it pertains intersectionally, with things such as race and ethnicity and disability, those are offshoots. Those are additional subjects that I think need to be expanded upon a little further.

Angelika Sharygina
Absolutely. And just as we have only five minutes left, because the time just went so quickly, it was such an exciting and thought-provoking raw, and very honest discussion today. My last question to everyone, and please try to make it up to one minute, is, what do you think why? Why do you think the current ranking system they do not have the mental health issue mental health ranking of their universities or the university president at ranking systems as essential to actually measure the success of the university? And why do you think this has to be added to the new ranking systems? Because everyone already has, they're obsessed with school radios and are obsessed with getting into the top university, but no one is talking about the pressure, about mental support. What do you think needs to be done to actually normalize these conversations and add them into ranking engines?

Student Mental health issues in university ranking factors

Timothy Markle
I like Dr. Laura's suggestion of some training. So is there training available or required of staff to understand mental illness and also to understand their own stuff? Let's not forget that we're dealing with professors who are also human. And so what is the, not only is their mental health supports available for the students, but are there mental health supports available? For the staff, is the overall campus mentally healthy? And do they have access to mental information? So I think that training is not only in identifying mental health illnesses but also in understanding the resources. Then do the professors know what to do? What are their options? What are they empowered to do? And so are there training or in the mental health system on campus, and then just the syllabus have on it that you can come to talk to me about your struggles, you come to talk to me if you have a disability, is you don't need to necessarily do this or this come talk to me? Is that we are making an open? Are we removing those barriers? And do they have those sorts of the syllabus acknowledgments?

Angelika sharygena
Is it super important for every university to address this.

Dr. Laura Dowling
I think it's not; I think it absolutely unequivocally needs to be part of the ranking, Angelica; for everything that we talked about why it's not part of typical ranking systems, I think universities are afraid of the whole subject matter. And most universities do not have the expertise to create and develop these programs. It's there's still that stigma and fear factor. I think adding it to a university ranking system will bring it to rise it up, and universities will pay attention. Absolutely.

Ruth Fuente
For sure. I think it is complicated in that sense because it's not a topic that our society, not only at universities, is not a topic that we wanted to, but it's needed to be talked about. So I think it's important to introduce it, but on not only for universities and for our students, but also for the next step not to get into a job in the company. So companies also need to have this inside their services for the employees. So I think it is something that needs to be taught not only for the university, not only for the education, but we need to talk about it in all aspects of our lives. And I think it's starting to really start to be to have these discussions. But we're still at the beginning of the process of changing this.

Dr. Laura Dowling
Right versus yourself, right, because it just follows a person throughout their life. Right? Absolutely needed on the corporate side.

Dr. Georgia Bedford
I think the other part of this is to just again, normalize the discussion, and integrate the, maybe through coursework, maybe having a core class, because at my institution, and many, as you said, they have to take public speaking, we have to provide courses and instruction in mental health. And maybe that becomes part of the core competency that they have to demonstrate. Just awareness is taking a class and institutionally building recognition in various ways across every single department. And administratively, from top levels to lowest levels of staffing.

Timothy Markle
Just think about the fact Georgia, as you talked about, we're not going to excel in everything. But what if we could help every student become more competent in their mental health, and then taking care of themselves is that is going to impact every industry that is going to impact the success of every student. And that's going to have this cascading effect them affecting their families affecting their coworkers. So yes, let's use this opportunity. We have to teach good mental health and good mental habits.

Angelika Sharygina
This is a brilliant summary of our incredible discussion. Tim, thank you so much, Dr. Laura and Dr. Georgia team doctors; your insights today were really invaluable to our audience. And I know that our audience is the audience of changemakers that will implement everything that we've discussed today in their day-to-day life. And I would like to remind you that we've been at the West Conference world higher education ranking Summit, joined by industry leaders; please make sure to download your question in the chat box and ask the panelists or any selected panelist, and then we will refer to them, and you will get your answers. Thank you so much for your attention. It was Angelica. It was my pleasure to host today's session.
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