Nazarbayev University
Graduate School of Education

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Dr. Hernández-Torrano, Associate Professor at GSE, delivered a workshop on strategies for promote the mental health and well-being of university students in Kazakhstan at KIMEP University 

Dr. Hernández-Torrano, Associate Professor at GSE, delivered a workshop on strategies to promote the mental health and well-being of university students in Kazakhstan at KIMEP University (Almaty, Kazakhstan) on August 13, 2022Addressing mental health in higher education settings is important because psychological distress in early adulthood is associated with adverse short-term outcomes, such as poor college attendance, performance, engagement, and completion, and others in the long term, such as dysfunctional relationships, recurrent mental health problems, university dropout, lower rates of employment, and reduced personal income. 

Advancing the mental health and well-being of university students has progressively become a core component of the mission of many universities worldwide. This is partially due to an emerging "mental health" crisis in higher education, characterized by a sharp increase in the number and severity of mental health challenges reported by university students in recent years.

Higher education institutions offer unique opportunities to promote young adults' mental health and well-being. However, most university students experiencing mental health problems and low levels of well-being are not receiving support.

The workshop was targeted at all faculty members at KIMEP university. It was aimed at offering participants an opportunity to reflect on the role they can play in supporting students’ mental health and well-being. They were introduced to key concepts in the field and discussed the prevalence of mental health challenges in university students. Through participatory activities, they were invited to identify student support available at their institution and discuss barriers and facilitators to seeking help when experiencing mental health issues. Moreover, participants practiced an evidence-based approach to recognizing, responding to, and referring university students in distress. Finally, they discussed multiple instructional and design strategies to prevent students’ stress and promote positive states of well-being.

The workshop emanated from the results and insights of an FCGDP funded by Nazarbayev University led by Dr. Hernández-Torrano. The project aims to provide valuable insights for informing efforts to address psychological distress among university students and create campus environments that promote better mental health and well-being in Kazakhstan and other post-soviet countries. The information derived from this study will be used to develop effective strategies to address and improve existing mental health challenges, prevent psychological distress, and design systematic initiatives that promote the psychological well-being of university students.