Student wellbeing campaign

For the past few years, we’ve been working with colleagues across the University to create a student-facing wellbeing campaign. The 2018/19 campaign was bigger and better than ever, so we wanted to tell you about the thinking behind it and the all-important results.

Brief and objectives

The University launched its Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy on University Mental Health Day, 1 March 2018. This was timely in view of the national narrative around mental health issues affecting university students nationwide.

Prior to the launch, the Health and Wellbeing webpages for students were rewritten and reorganised. The challenge was to devise a campaign that would engage students and drive traffic to the new pages. 

The objectives were to:

  • Publicly demonstrate the University’s commitment to improving and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of its students
  • Support students with timely messages that normalise wellbeing and mental health issues 
  • Direct students to the services and resources available.

The idea, research and planning

We wanted to create eye-catching, engaging meme-style messages to appeal to students, and deploy them on multiple communication channels. 

We researched information and campaigns produced by specialist mental health organisations (eg Mind) and by other higher education institutions. Research showed we should avoid clichéd representation of mental ill-health; no students with heads in hands. 

We ran workshops with Student Services and the Students’ Unions to understand and capture the student journey and accompanying emotions as seen in the table below.

Strategy, tactics, creativity and innovation

Working closely with our in-house student counselling service, Open Door, we produced a framework to ensure each message is shared at the right time. For creative direction, we surveyed students; 70% preferred animal images. We combined images and messages, and launched the #uoywellbeing campaign.

Delivery

The campaign is delivered via email, student news items, social media and digital screens across campus. Social media graphics are shared with the two Students’ Unions (YUSU and GSA), academic departments, professional services and the nine Colleges. 

Measurement and evaluation

We used Google Analytics to check the web page visits over a full academic year before the campaign launch, and compared these to a full year of post campaign figures (01/02/18 to 31/01/19). The change was startling!

Adjusting to University

In the Autumn term, we focus on staying safe and drinking sensibly, looking out for one another, consent and homesickness. We saw a substantial increase in unique visits to the related web pages – up to 246% – with time spent on the pages indicating that students read them in full.

Resilience and wellbeing

In Spring term, messages encourage students to build their resilience and take ownership of their wellbeing. The website has extensive advice to help students deal with everyday challenges and we offer wellbeing workshops to help students build their skills and increase their resilience. Again, we saw a steep rise in webpage visits – one page saw a 1031.5% increase.

Impact

The campaign has been a resounding success and achieved all of its objectives:

  • We are publicly demonstrating the University’s commitment to improving and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of its students. The campaign is highly visible on digital screens around campus for all to see and appears on multiple social media accounts which are followed by students, staff and alumni as well as other institutions.
  • Feedback in student focus groups indicates that mental health and wellbeing have become a part of everyday conversations across campus. Students have stated that they welcome the normalising of mental health issues.
  • More students are visiting the web pages and using the self-help resources. In addition, more students are making use of the full range of support services available to them including Open Door, Colleges, Students’ Unions and the Student Hub.

There is no doubt that the messages and images resonate with students and grab their attention, but the success of the campaign is also down to our whole institution approach. By involving all stakeholders in the development, delivery and review of the campaign we have helped to embed wellbeing institution-wide.

We’re proud of the success of this campaign, and have adapted this approach to planning other student communication campaigns. We’re confident that the resources invested in #uoywellbeing will continue to reap rewards in future years.

What next?

This year we have redesigned the student Health and Wellbeing web pages so that they work better on mobile phones and tablets. We have simplified the navigation and the pages are also be available via a new Student Health App. Keep an eye out for our new wellbeing flower motif on the next wellbeing campaign!

Published by

Allison Loftfield

Student Communications Manager University of York

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