Student wellbeing: riding the corona waves

Am I the only one? Organizational psychologist Llewellyn van Zyl discusses wellbeing, study characteristics and common mental health problems of university students before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in radical changes within the (higher) education system. These changes have posed new challenges for university students, and many social welfare agencies have warned that it could adversely affect their mental health and wellbeing. Students may experience higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety (common mental health problems), and lower levels of emotional, psychological and social wellbeing due to COVID-19 regulations implemented by the government. This is largely because vital study-related resources (e.g. information availability, growth opportunities, peer and lecturer support) have become inaccessible, and study-related demands may have increased significantly.

But how did the COVID-19 pandemic really affect students, and how can we manage the possible consequences? The answer may surprise you. In this lecture, Llewellyn van Zyl will illustrate how study characteristics (demands/resources), common mental health problems and wellbeing looked like before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, he will discuss some evidence-based intervention strategies you can implement to cope with the challenges of this new normal and effectively ride the wave of these turbulent times.

Dr. Llewellyn van Zyl is an assistant professor in work and organizational psychology with the Department of Human Performance Management at TU/e. He also holds an extraordinary professorship in Industrial Psychology with the North-West University (South Africa), where he forms part of the Positive Institutions Sub-Programme of the Optentia Research Focus Area. His research aims to enable people to feel good, function well, and perform better at work. In particular, he examines the factors that enhance mental health and performance and how they can be developed through online enabling interventions (OEIs).

In this video is a reference to the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. If you would like to take this survey, you can follow these steps:

  • Please direct your web browser to the website on signature strengths at the University of Pennsylvania : https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/user/register
  • You must register first, then you will be directed to a page where you can take the questionnaire. (See Appendix 1 below). Complete all the details and click on the 'Create new account' button once completed
  • After registration, scroll down to Engagement Questionnaires click on the link next to “VIA Survey of Character Strengths” which states TAKE TEST
  • The questionnaire is 220 items, so it will take about 20 to 30 minutes to finish. It will be worth your time.
  • When you are done, please print the results showing your ranking of all 24 strengths.
  • Warning: our culture inclines us to view lesser strengths as weaknesses, but please do not do this. It will be tempting for you to “work on” a strength with a low ranking, however there is much more opportunity in applying top strengths in better and new ways.

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