14 April 2022

Entering the world of higher education can be a time of real excitement for students, but it can also bring with it significant challenges and anxieties. Here at the Business School, helping students navigate these challenges and supporting good mental health is considered vital.
Psychological Wellbeing in Business: a first of its kind

With a strong coaching culture and dedicated Student Development team, the School has long adopted a person-centered approach to developing effective and responsible leaders. During the unprecedented times of the global pandemic, there was recognition across the School that this approach was now more important than ever.

The launch of the new ‘Psychological Wellbeing in Business’ course is the Business School’s most recent endeavour to help students nurture their mental health at university and beyond. By the end of the 2022 academic year over 300 undergraduate students will have completed the course, which is a curricular, credit-bearing course open to all first-year students across the University. In line with the University’s Student Mental Health Strategy, the groundbreaking course recognises that by empowering students to actively work on maintaining and improving their mental health, the rewards will be felt across all areas of their lives.

Sophie Mitchinson, Teaching Assistant in the Business School, is part of the team that created, built, and implemented the course. "Students’ mental wellbeing is an increasingly salient concern within higher education and, while we were always keen to focus on students’ transition into higher education, the impact of Covid-19 on this transition naturally became a focus and has arguably been one of the biggest benefits of launching the course when we did.

"Being able to work with students right from the start of their degree, and to expose them to the breadth of support available, has been hugely rewarding and has highlighted the strength of our community and culture within the School."

The course is very much at the nexus of business education, academia, professional services, industry engagement, and student feedback and experience. There is a clear focus on supporting students to maximise their potential, while developing the tools and abilities needed to mitigate challenges and anxieties they may encounter at university and on into their future careers. The interdisciplinary strategic partnership between academia and professional services adds to the richness of the course and the transferability of its concepts to the workplace. It is designed to help students work on graduate attributes and to develop themselves personally and professionally from their very first days in higher education.

One thing that sets the course apart from so many others is the dual focus that it places on supporting students to develop both professionally and personally.

As a result, I now have the knowledge and skills to help improve my academic studies at university.
Beth, Psychological Wellbeing in Business student

Beth, who was part of the first cohort of students to have completed the course, said: "Psychological Well-being in Business has undoubtedly been one of the most meaningful courses I have ever studied. It helped me learn new things about myself, and sometimes it didn’t even feel like studying and instead like an opportunity to develop myself emotionally. Furthermore, the assessment of the course allowed me to apply the psychological theories to myself. As a result, I now have the knowledge and skills to help improve my academic studies at university as I have an excellent understanding of the emotional side to business and studying thanks to this course."

Lattia, who also recently completed the course, elaborates: "This course has helped me reflect both on my academic and my personal life. The course provides you with opportunities to experience the dynamics of teamwork and understanding how essential communication skills are within a working environment.

"More significantly, it has opened up my mind to what I feel is important in the workplace. It taught me that work is no longer just a place where people go to make a living in a hierarchical environment; it is about personal development, achievement, engagement, teamwork, resilience, and wellbeing, among other things. Ultimately, the course allowed me to understand and think more positively about the evolution of the modern workplace."

Having completed the course during their first year at the Business School, students can go on to undertake the Edinburgh Award for Professional Development (EAPD) in second year. As part of the EAPD, students are coached and work on the skills and strengths they identified during the course. In their third year, they can be mentored or become a coach themselves, and in fourth year there are multiple opportunities for these skills to become embedded within the curriculum and co-curriculum.

If you would be interested in finding out more about this course, and how the skills might be applicable in different contexts, please contact Rona Doig, Head of Student Development, Tara Morrison, Deputy Head of Undergraduate Programmes and Course Organiser for Psychological Wellbeing in Business, or Marta Bernal, Lecturer in Business Education.