Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology

Syllabus Statements: Wellbeing Support

Syllabus statements are an important way for faculty to accomplish a number of useful goals at the outset of each course: Reduce the number of predictable questions from students, help establish students' expectations about the course at the outset, reduce students’ uncertainty (and increase their comfort level) about you and the course, generate more positive perceptions about who you are and how you will conduct the class, and convey your commitment to supporting them as individuals. These pages offer information about several categories of recommended syllabus statements, each offering examples and downloads of language that can be copied or revised for individual faculty use in course syllabi.

Wellbeing Support

It has never more important for educators to incorporate wellbeing support language into their interactions with students. That was true even before the COVID pandemic turned everyone’s world upside down. National survey data over multiple years documents high and rising rates of stress, depression, anxiety among today’s college students (see the National College Health Assessment survey data). The findings for Cal Poly students are consistent with the national data except for a clear and consistent finding: Cal Poly students report higher levels on all metrics: higher stress, more depression, greater anxiety, etc.

To help our students succeed and to achieve the high levels of accomplishment that we set for them in our classes, our students need to understand from you, a highly credible and important figure in their lives, that:

  1. When (not if) they struggle emotionally and mentally, they are not alone among their Cal Poly peers.
  2. When (not if) they are feeling stress and anxiety, it does not mean they don’t belong at Cal Poly.
  3. They can come to you when the feel that they need support and you will not dismiss or shame them.
  4. There is substantial help on campus and you will help them to find it.

A syllabus statement with language like the examples offered below can increase the likelihood that your students will feel less shame and less stigma about their emotional struggles and be more willing to seek out the help that they need and that they deserve. Browse the exemplars below for ideas to copy or revise -- or as inspiration for a statement that you compose personally.

Syllabus Statements Language Models

Recent nationwide surveys of college students consistently find that stress, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, interpersonal concerns, death of a significant other and alcohol use are among the top ten health impediments to academic performance. Students experiencing personal problems or situational crises are encouraged to contact Cal Poly's Counseling Services (805-756-2511) for assistance, support and advocacy. This service is free and confidential.

As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce a student’s ability to participate in daily activities. University of Minnesota services are available to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via the Student Mental Health Website at (insert link). (University of Minnesota)

Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance. The source of symptoms might be strictly related to your course work; if so, please speak with me. However, problems with relationships, family worries, loss, or a personal struggle or crisis can also contribute to decreased academic performance. UAS provides mental health services to support the academic success of students. The UAS Counseling Center offers confidential services to help you manage personal challenges. Any student who is enrolled in credit courses for the current semester is eligible.  In the event I suspect you need additional support, I will express my concerns and the reasons for them, and remind you of campus resources (e.g., Counseling Services, Student Services, etc.) that might be helpful to you. It is not my intention to know the details of what might be bothering you, but simply to let you know I am concerned and that help, if needed, is available.  Getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do -- for yourself and for those who care about you. (University of Alaska, Anchorage)

NOTE: Consider adding this link to your syllabus for updated information for students related to health and wellbeing: https://coronavirus.calpoly.edu/

(Download document here)

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