Basic Needs: Food, Housing, Financial, and Mental Well-being
Basic needs insecurity is a growing and critical struggle that threatens students' academic and mental and physical well-being. A student's retention and progress to graduation can be in danger when they have inconsistent access to nutritious food, housing, financial instability, and mental health instability.
Students at Risk
Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are at risk of being basic needs insecure because of factors like increasing cost of higher education, lack of awareness of available support, and stigma and shame. However, a certain population of students is disproportionately impacted; students that are already undeserved, including first generation, LGBTQIA, low income students, and students of color.
The Impact on Students
Basic needs insecurity is common among college students and the negative impacts are real:
- Increases difficulty in concentrating and studying, lowers retention, and decreases graduation rate.
- Generates and/or elevates depression, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and burnout.
- Lowers morale and motivation, reduces creativity, hinders communication, decreases productivity, increase absenteeism, and decreases social opportunities.
Students that are hungry, burned-out, depressed, preoccupied with issues like money are less likely to succeed academically, socially, and personally.
What You Can Do
As an educator at UC Davis, you can improve the success and well-being of your students by promoting student food, housing, financial, and mental wellness security:
- You can provide guidance and aid students in identifying resources.
- You can reduce the various stigma and stereotype preventing students from obtaining security.
- You can promote open and honest conversations.
- You can listen to your students and signal to them and your colleagues that these issues are serious.
Proactive ideas for helping students - send us yours!
- Include information on your syllabi (Please see above for sample text).
- Include the FAQ sheet about various campus support services and resources for students to your Canvas course site (Please see below for more information).
- Make an announcement on the first day about the prevalence and effects of insecurity and the available resources - remind students regularly throughout the year about the available support.
- Inform TAs about these issues and resources and encourage them to share them.
- Add information to your graduate program or lab addressing these issues and resources on campus.
- Consider making a student-instructor meeting a course requirement.
|Be Knowledgeable and Aware||
You don't need to be an expert on basic needs insecurity in higher education but try to familiarize yourself.
Familiarize yourself with the available resources so you can point students in the right direction.
Understand that students may assume that insecurity is normal to experience in college, may not realize that they are insecure and/or may not seek support due to reasons such as stigma.
Include information on your syllabi (see sample text below).
Communicate periodically throughout the quarter about basic needs insecurity and available resources.
|Introducing the concept of insecurity and encouraging students to utilize campus resources may help them navigate the higher education system. It may also help normalize reaching out and getting support, thus decreasing stigma.|
Reach out to students and let them know that you have an open door.
Assist them in taking the first step.
|Students are unlikely to seek help or advice if they are uncomfortable talking to you or if they perceive that you don't care.|
|Be Transparent and Restructure your Role||
Be clear to your students that you are here to support them and can connect them to the resources.
As transparency increase, trust increase and a stronger relationship is built.
Eliminate the notion that only counselor or doctors are responsible for identifying and addressing student non-academic needs.
Be willing to talk, listen, and learn.
Help students see that their struggle is common and seeking support is healthy.
Please be mindful of your language and behavior; labeling or singling out individuals may enhance stigma and shame.
This chart was compiled through feedback from UC Davis instructors, CEE's JITT Resources, and resources listed in the resource section.
- 44% indicated being low or very low food secure. Collected in May 2018; published in the Food Security Task Force Report.
- 18% of UC Davis students experienced some form of housing insecurity. Collected in May 2018; published in the Housing Security Task Force Report.
University of California
- 44% of undergraduate students and 26% of graduate students experienced some level of food insecurity.
- 5% of undergraduate and graduate students experienced homelessness.
- Collected in Winter/Spring 2016; published in the Global Food Initiative: Food and Housing Security in the University of California report.