Good and challenging takeaways one year on from the pandemic
The Sydney College of Divinity Students have access to TalkCampus, an app that provides students support for mental health. TalkCampus is a safe place where SCD students can talk to other students all around the world, anonymously about anything.
Below is a blog from the TalkCampus team by Kelsey Mulcahy posted in March, one year on from the pandemic.
This month (March 2021) marked a year since we were all sent home from our offices, and while no end date was set, there was an expectation (or hope!) that the restrictions would be short term. A year later, many of us haven’t seen our workplaces in months and a lot has changed! We’ve also learned a lot…
We wanted to share with you some of the key takeaways we have heard from you all over the past 12 months, both the good and the challenging. These shared experiences show how interconnected our TalkCampus community really is, despite being across the four corners of the world.
Let’s start with some positives!
Attitudes towards wellbeing and mental health at work have changed for the better
The pandemic has cemented mental health as a priority throughout all workplaces, and educational institutions are no different. For many of you, the pandemic was a catalyst for your partnership with TalkCampus, with senior leadership teams recognising that wellbeing departments needed as much support as possible to reach students, across the globe and 24/7. We know that pre-pandemic, many of your services were already stretched, and the extreme focus on mental health throughout all covid research has resulted in your institution prioritising the mental wellbeing of your students and therefore your department, more than ever.
The pandemic has proven we can change the way we work for the better
The pandemic has led to an incredible transformation in how we work, a shift that will continue in a post covid world. We’ve heard from you that while working remotely comes with it’s own challenges, the increased flexibility, time with family and the eradication of long commutes is something that you hope to continue in some capacity.
We know that many of you feel as though the day to day has been condensed into the things that matter. We’ve heard that working remotely has helped to streamline your services, and platforms such as zoom have made it easier for you to have face to face time with more students than was possible on campus. We have been impressed with how creative you have been at engaging with your students, fighting back against ‘email fatigue’ and the dreaded ‘zoom gloom’ and that these new ways of engaging have been well received by your students.
Human experience shone through technology
While we have all felt the zoom fatigue, in a surprising way, our background noises, surprise guests, and other bloopers have been unexpected sources of connection. We’ve heard from you all that it has added a layer of humanity to be able to connect with your students needing support and to have a glimpse into their living spaces, and them into yours. The isolation of the past 12 months have revealed the importance and strength of empathy in our day-to-day interactions, and have cemented the importance of human connection even through technology.
Student appreciation for your work is deeper than before
While students have been vocal about the challenges they are facing transitioning to online learning, we have heard from both students and from you that students have been incredibly grateful for the ways your teams have gone above and beyond to support them through these unprecedented times. Your efforts towards mobilising your university demonstrated your incredible care and commitment for students and resulted in them being able to continue their studies. Many of you have worked round-the-clock, night and day, while adjusting work schedules and managing childcare. It has not gone unrecognised and these efforts are incredibly meaningful to your students.
And the more challenging…
Work/life balance not so balanced
For many of you, work-life boundaries blurred, then vanished, as waking life came to mean always online and available. With such a huge transition to remote learning, and the anxiety around the increased need of mental health support for students struggling with isolation, we have heard from you that it has been challenging to retain any sort of boundaries essential for your own wellbeing.
Demand on your services and reduced capacity
The pandemic has resulted in many of your teams decreasing in size, while the demand for your services has dramatically increased. With so many students struggling with the side effects of isolation, we know your teams are struggling with feeling the pressure to reach and support as many students as possible without having the capacity to do so. At TalkCampus we are really pleased that we are able to assist with supporting these harder to reach students.
Communication fatigue as felt by students
With all on campus communication being eliminated, almost all communication has been made with students over email for the past 12 months. We know that many of you are struggling with the email fatigue felt by students, wanting to ensure they get the important messages from your team that you know they would benefit from.