‘It’s normal to struggle at times’
Studying is by no means always easy. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to seek help from the University, says Coordinator of Student Welfare Hannah Markusse.
Thousands of students have just started with their study. What would you like to say to them?
‘That it’s normal to struggle at times. So many things change when you become a student. You find yourself in a new environment, you may be living on your own for the first time, and studying at university is very different from taking subjects in secondary school. Make yourself visible and share your experiences with others, so they can help you if necessary. I also think it’s important to listen to your intuition. If you feel that something isn’t right, take that feeling seriously. Whether it’s a drinking game that you don’t want to join in or something else. Don’t just assume that something is a normal part of student life, but stay true to your inner self and try to talk about it.’
What kind of problems can the University help with?
‘Anything to do with studying. It could be fear of failure or study stress – we offer training programmes and workshops on these topics. Or it could be a more specific problem, like writer’s block when writing your thesis. This is something that the Radboud Writing Lab can help you with. You can also seek help from the University if you feel you have been treated unfairly, or if you’re a victim of sexual or other intimidation. This is something the confidential advisor can help with, for example by helping you take the necessary steps. And finally, you can also contact one of the university psychologists.’
How do you find the right person?
‘You can find an overview on the Student Support webpage of the University. But the easiest way is to first contact your student advisor. He or she will know what support is available, and can refer you if necessary. If necessary, the university psychologists can also put you in contact with healthcare providers outside the University. In October, we’re organising a welfare week around the theme ‘Dare to Fail’. Everyone is welcome to attend lectures and follow workshops.’
Two million extra
The Radboud University is going to make additional investments into student wellbeing throughout the next few years. Until 2022, two million euros are reserved for student wellbeing. The money is stemming from the so-called NPO-aid, an amount of money that the government has made available to absorb the blows universities have taken because of the corona crisis. Students can, for example, receive money for initiatives that improve student wellbeing. Additionally, also the student support department, which includes student psychologists, receives additional funding. On top of the two million euros, the university is also working on other projects that could benefit wellbeing, according to spokesperson Martijn Gerritsen, like a buddy system for first years. The need to improve students’ mental health is high. Research of professor Jacqueline Vink has shown that a quarter of students rate to be in a ‘bad health state.’ They suffer, for example, from high amounts of stress and feel frustrated and have a low mood more frequently.