Self-care for students: community engaged research for better well-being Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Our project will qualitatively investigate the self-care practices used by Canadian post-secondary students to manage their mental health and well-being with the aim of addressing a critical gap between mental health care needs and services for this population. Evidence shows that post-secondary students in Canada are increasingly struggling with their well-being and the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these difficulties. Our project will address the urgent need to understand how students are caring for themselves using non-clinical self-care practices like physical activities, hobbies, and relaxation practices. Self-care is a unique configuration of care where a person in need of support is both the provider and recipient. There is a need to develop evidence-based understandings of self-care so that 1) students can strengthen their emotional resilience when professional care is inaccessible, and 2) we can help reduce the burden for overrun campus wellness services. An emerging body of social science literature reveals that for people with physical health conditions, self-care can promote social resilience and personal endurance. The benefits of self-care in the case of mental health have yet to be fully explored and this area of inquiry offers a potential key to promoting well-being for students at McMaster and at post-secondary schools across the country. Our research will benefit social science and humanities research by advancing the qualitative understanding of self-care from a societal point of view.