Wellbeing Index for Irish higher-education to be led by NUI Galway

Mindful Conference 2018

 

Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has announced that NUI Galway will lead a comprehensive survey of wellbeing across the Higher Education sector.

The initiative has an over-arching aim to create happy, healthy institutions of learning which nurture and protect their students and staff.

The announcement was made by the Minister at the Mindful Way Conference at NUI Galway on 14 June. NUI Galway has shown international leadership creating the first Mindful University in Europe with a broader goal towards wellbeing for students, staff and local community.

Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said mental health issues in Universities are rising at an alarming rate across Europe.

 

“In the EU, about 165 million people are affected each year by mental disorders, mostly anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders. According to the World Health Organisation, by 2030 mental health issues will be the biggest health burden in our society according to the World Health Organisation.  Crucial to note is that an estimated 75% of adult mental disorders begin before the age of 24. So there is undoubtedly a critical role which higher-education can play, picking up the baton from primary and secondary-level schools, in supporting students”.

The Health and Wellbeing team in NUI Galway, led by Professor Lokesh Joshi and Professor Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, have devised an online questionnaire which students and staff members in Higher Education & Further Education Institutes, Institutes of Technology and Independent Colleges will be invited to complete.

Professor Joshi added: “We are delighted to create this Wellbeing Index for the Department.  There are positive initiatives happening in a lot of our institutions for Higher Education, we just need to join up the dots to have a more fulsome and comprehensive picture. We would like to think Ireland can be an exemplar for Europe in this field.”

The information gathered and further engagement with other HEIs, will guide the Minister’s assessment of what further steps may be appropriate and beneficial to support and safeguard student’s mental health.  

The Department of Education and Skills is to fund an important new wellbeing and mental health self-review survey tool on best practice and initiatives from across Higher Education in this critical area of healthcare. The Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “Since taking up my position in the Department a year ago, I have visited many of the Higher and Further Education institutions where welfare officers and students continually raise the issues relating to students mental health and wellbeing.  Stress, anxiety, exam pressure, work life balance, alcohol abuse, substance abuse, recreational or hard drugs can all negatively impact the wellbeing and resilience of the student.

Positive mental health supports young people to build their resilience. It supports them to develop their social and emotional skills and deal with daily challenges and the stresses of life.”

Academic Research into Mindfulness

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There are many proven benefits of applying mindfulness to our lifestyles - across work, life, research and learning. The growing body of academic research into the field suggests that mindfulness can improve productivity and benefit organisations large and small.

Read an interview with Vice-President for Research, Professor Lokesh Joshi in The Irish Times:
"NUI Galway embarks on a mindful adventure"   20 October 2015.

 Read  about Dr Michael Hogan's Mindfulness related research here