The permanent team of student psychologists, who have been doing a fantastic job for years, is overwhelmed by regular care during the pandemic. For the phone campaign, VUB will recruit 150 master’s students in psychology, who will conduct a 15-minute telephone interview with every VUB student, both bachelors and masters. This will involve more than 16,000 students. The student counsellors will receive training in which they practise telephone conversation and interview skills and learn how to respond appropriately to what students tell them.
Besides asking students how they feel, they will follow up with a number of targeted questions. This is done using a validated questionnaire, which allows the university to assess students’ mental well-being. Should the call reveal that the student is struggling, they will be informed of possible resources or professional help.
The organisation and content is led by professor of clinical psychology Imke Baetens and dean professor Johan Vanderfaeillie. Imke Baetens: “The students have signed up quickly and in large numbers to do the telephone consultations for VUB. They realise that this is important for all their fellow students during the pandemic. Because this has to be handled professionally and at a high level, the students will be paid as working students and recruited from the master’s programme in clinical psychology. With a number of targeted questions, they test how each student is doing. It is a large-scale project that takes a lot of effort, but is even more rewarding. Moreover, we can outline our policy based on the results.” This project and the training is made possible by the Brussels University Consultation Center (BRUCC).
Rector Caroline Pauwels, initiator of the campaign, explains: “The targeted questions allow us to map the mental well-being of VUB students. At the end of the survey, the collected, anonymous data will be analysed. Based on that, changes can be made at policy level that ensure the mental well-being of VUB students is better monitored and supported.”
Students who prefer not to be called can indicate so via a consent form in the newsletter about the campaign.
Phone campaign part of VUB project Leave No One Behind
The VUB Cares About You phone campaign is part of the large-scale VUB project Leave No One Behind, which aims to promote student well-being. By doing so, VUB supports its students, gives them courage and helps them where necessary in areas including financial, social and mental well-being.
Within mental well-being, there are already several initiatives. For example, the study guidance service supports students who are experiencing problems with planning, assignments and deadlines. In addition, Start to Talk, Samen Sterk (Strong Together) and VUBuddy are just a few of the many initiatives for and by VUB students, through which they offer each other help. These initiatives will all be amplified among the student population through the #Durftedelen campaign under the umbrella of The World Needs You. A team of student psychologists is also available for students with individual consultations and group training and the Kotcoach helps to manage dorm life, combat loneliness and promote the making of friendships.
The World Needs You
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig – The World Needs You, which brings together ideas and actions based on six Ps. The first P stands for People, because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership, VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré, the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ‘urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.