With many students living alone or at home, isolated from friends, concerns about student mental health have been rising on and off campus. While Peer Health Advisors can no longer provide in-person support, the group launched a partnership with Headspace on Feb. 1, offering all Lehigh students a premium subscription with the app.
Headspace is a meditation and mindfulness app that offers users a wide variety of resources ranging from meditations for better focus and sleep to more specific realms of mental health such as dealing with grief and regret.
“When you’re left by yourself for so long, your mental health can take a turn,” said Livy Bergstein, ‘22, Peer Health’s marketing and liaison chair. “To have something at your fingertips that can rework your mindset and change the way you view the world is really important, especially because mental health is at an all-time low right now.”
After asking the student body in fall 2020 what Lehigh could do to best support students, Peer Health saw support for mental health as the most prominent response.
According to a survey issued in the spring and fall of 2020 by the Health Advancement and Prevention Strategies office, 89 percent of Lehigh students have some concern about their mental health—29 percent of them having an extreme concern.
With this information in mind, Lehigh’s Peer Health executive board recognized how the student body could potentially benefit from the services offered by Headspace after seeing its positive effects at other schools.
As a result, the Health Advancement and Prevention Strategies office and Peer Health reached out to departments across campus over winter break in order to secure funding for the premium subscription, eventually partnering with Student Auxiliary Services.
“Peer Health has always had a focus on mental health and we’re always looking for new opportunities to work in that space, but this in particular really came about quickly,” said Elizabeth Kolaski, ‘21, president of Peer Health. “We had the idea and then executed it within a month or two.”
Typically costing $12.99 per month, students can now take advantage of Headspace’s services for free for up to a year.
Headspace Premium offers more than 1,200 hours of themed meditation, sleep content, mindful movement exercises and focus music.
Two weeks after its launch, over 750 Lehigh students had signed up for the premium subscription.
Of the different content types offered by the app, the majority of Lehigh users take advantage of its sleep feature.
“I think Headspace is definitely a step in the right direction for helping students,” said Missy Connolly ‘23. “I think the partnership will be very helpful especially since it includes mindfulness and meditation exercises, and I feel like a lot of students might not regularly do those things.”
With the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health has come center stage. Students are struggling and looking for ways to destress and recharge in productive and healthy ways.
Through Peer Health’s partnership with Headspace, students are receiving that opportunity on their own terms.
“There’s still a stigma surrounding mental health and students might not want to reach out to professional services to seek out help, so a service like Headspace can give them the avenue to relieve their stress and anxiety in a way that is controlled by them,” said Sarina Shah, ‘22, Peer Health recruitment chair. “I think that all students at Lehigh live extremely fast-paced lives and having a resource that is at their own discretion is really important.”