Due to growing concerns surrounding student mental health and wellbeing, there has been a shift in focus towards student accommodation providers and what they can do to create social and homely environments for their tenants.
Research on the role of accommodation environments in student mental health and wellbeing
A research paper from March this year (2021) thematically analysed eight focus groups from two universities to find out which aspects of student accommodation impact mental health and wellbeing.
The main findings suggested students would prefer accommodations that took a psychologically informed approach to arranging flatmates and were physically designed to facilitate social interactions and create a welcoming environment.
Psychologically informed approach
Students often felt like being in a flat with similar, like-minded people was luck of the draw, and most of the time they didn’t see eye-to-eye with everyone they were ‘thrown together’ with. There were widespread calls for accommodation providers to launch personality surveys in order to match students with similar others.
Regarding physical environment, students emphasised the desire to have relational spaces on each floor, asking for student bedrooms in clusters rather than ‘linear trenches’ to create flexible environments where cohesive student communities can grow.
There were also comments about the need for bright colours and large social spaces, this would create a welcoming and socially open environment to allow students to avoid feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
Plenty of students highlighted that their residential advisors should be “more visible and proactive in getting to know them”, which would enable students to feel more comfortable in approaching pastoral staff if they have a problem.
The benefits of this research for accommodation providers
This research suggests accommodation providers could benefit significantly from listening to individual students and acting on the ways they feel their mental health and wellbeing could be improved by their environment.
Focusing on individual students and how they feel towards their accommodation will allow halls providers to take a tailored approach to their tenants, which will facilitate more positive feelings from students towards them.
The Global Student Living Index
If you are interested in finding out more about student accommodation and its impact on wellbeing, visit the Global Student Living Index at: Global Student Living Index – Global Student Living (gsl.news) Here you can access the latest data on student experiences and emerging trends in the student community.
To read the full research paper, visit: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-021-10602-5