Next door to the Living Room, on the ground floor of the Langeveld building, the Personal Support Hub was opened this spring. You can come here, for example, for a chat with a fellow student or to take part in workshops covering well-being or personal development. The various well-being-related services the university provides converge here. For instance, there are walk-in consultations with psychologists, careers advisers and even spiritual counsellors. Trained hosts welcome visitors to the Personal Support Hub and the Living Room: “We sometimes see people needing to offload about all manner of things, while others come just to relax for a while.”
What is the Personal Support Hub?
“While the Living Room is the place for relaxation, social interaction and fun, the Personal Support Hub has a more serious undertone. It is somewhere students with questions about well-being, mental health and personal development can come. A trained host is present during the opening hours of 12.00 to 17.00.
“You can ask the hosts questions at any time. They know what the university has to offer in terms of support and ensure that students have someone approachable to talk to. If you don’t like the thought of approaching someone, you can make an appointment with a host.
“The hosts’ role is to identify a problem. They are trained in how to conduct an initial chat with students who have something on their minds and how to have that chat without taking the person outside of their comfort zone. We have also had people with suicidal thoughts come here. Needless to say, this is a very difficult subject and you really need to know what to say.”
For what kind of things can you go to the Personal Support Hub?
“We are now conducting pilots involving a variety of walk-in consultations with a careers adviser, student counsellors, psychologists and spiritual counsellors. Once a fortnight, the careers adviser sees students with questions about their future careers and everything connected to that. As from September, the student counsellors will be holding financial consultations to answer questions about everything to do with personal finances. The student psychologists organise theme-based consultations, on insomnia, for example.
“We have general spiritual counsellors who hold consultations for spiritual support. There may, but does not have to be, a spiritual undertone to those consultations. For instance, they also provide workshops on how to deal with the loss of a loved one.”
How does the assistance differ from other support provided at the university?
“This is somewhere you can come with any questions you might have. You can go to the study advisor as your primary point of contact. Alternatively, you could see the PSH as somewhere where embedded support is provided, with no appointment needed. If you are unsure who to approach, you can always ask your questions here, where you will be told what resources are available and where next to turn to for help. We also have an information point, a kind of mini-library, where you can obtain details of all the support on offer and what it includes.”
What have been the experiences so far?
“Students really welcome the Living Room and Personal Support Hub. We receive around a hundred visitors a day. You have people who come here for a break, while others have specific questions such as: ‘I’m really stressed because my uncle passed away, I’m also receiving less money and I have exams next week, what should I do?’ Others say nothing at all and just sit here quietly. In those cases, the host might go and sit beside the person to ask if there’s something they’re struggling with. Sometimes we then see all kinds of things come to the surface, but other times people are just happy to sit and relax for a bit.
“In general, the experiences are very good and people are happy that this facility is available. Actually, everyone who comes here is referred on to the right place or person. We’ve also noticed that it is harder for people who don’t come here to find the support they need. A large number of students are hard to reach and this a huge challenge.”