Why Student Led
Why are student leader-led initiatives a critical part of a comprehensive mental health strategy
Student leader led initiatives offer multiple advantages.
- Peers influence students.Both students and counselors advised that students are more comfortable talking about difficult situations with fellow students who they trust.
- Student leaders have a better grasp on the realities of the current student experience than others, even those who are on campus. This is not to say that others have no grasp of the student experience, but the student perspective is a valuable piece of the puzzle.
- Part of the student experience is that it involves more than just the time on campus. Students’ experience is a whole person experience in a whole life and a whole community – work, family, personal relationships are all part of a person’s experience and events in one ripple through all the others – there’s a domino effect. It’s hard for others to see all those other parts of a student’s experience and remember they’re part of the puzzle.
- Students are not necessarily limited by traditional views of mental health strategies. If innovation is desired, then student-led initiatives offer an opportunity to explore approaches that are driven by different worldviews. Successful initiatives can then be leveraged in a comprehensive strategy.
- Students are creative and can often find less expensive ways of achieving a desired outcome.
- Student leaders themselves are impacted. Students involved in conceiving, designing and implementing mental health initiatives develop a deeper understanding of mental wellness and mental health issues than most students. So developing and implementing the strategy helps them develop skills such as strategy development, project management and evaluation. They also learn more about the leadership challenges involved in changing culture, decisions that involve ethics of resource allocation, and other leadership dilemmas.