What are the primary aims of education? While the traditional view includes objectives of knowledge, vocation and civic engagement, Corey Keyes has a fourth aim in mind: student well-being.
In his recent keynote address at the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health (CICMH) Flourishing Campuses summit, Keyes, a pioneer of positive mental health research, argued that well-being should be a necessary objective of post-secondary education.
With many students reporting increased anxiety and stress during post-secondary education, Keyes pointed out that the absence of serious mental illness does not necessarily indicate that students are in positive mental health. In fact, research shows that a prolonged experience of moderate to languishing mental health can increase the risk of serious mental health issues.
Rather than focusing solely on the absence of mental illness, Keyes argued that education institutions should focus on the presence of “flourishing,” defined as the presence of psychological, social, and emotional well-being. An increased focus on student flourishing would not only reduce the risk of mental illness, but help to achieve the traditional aims of education.
This belief is evidenced by Keyes’ research which indicates that flourishing students report less deviance, less procrastination, greater school integration, more process than outcome motivation, and greater curiosity. These characteristics can lead to greater learning and increase student success.
Keyes’ keynote was one of the many interesting ideas shared at the CICMH summit, which brought together student leaders, counsellors, accessibility staff, campus health services, faculty, administrators, and community-based partners from both universities and colleges to discuss the complexities of campus mental health. For more on CICMH, visit campusmentalhealth.ca.