Section Three

Student Safety and Mental Health

It is important for educators to be aware of the various educational approaches and the risks they may pose to student safety and mental health. Since 20 percent of the Canadian population will experience a form of mental illness in their lifetime, this is also true for nursing students. In recent years, some social science and child education practitioners have begun to recognize the detrimental role that trauma can play in learning (Crosby, 2015). To that end, an emerging trend in education are trauma-informed educational practices that recognize the role that trauma plays in learning.

Given the potential for trauma in course work and clinical placements and the risk for vicarious trauma or retraumatization (Carello & Butler, 2015) among nursing students, the emotional safety of students is paramount. The art for nurse educators is balancing the need to hold students accountable to meet the necessary professional competencies, while at the same time creating learning environments that are safe for learning.

The development and application of pedagogies consistent with a ‘caring curriculum’ and with collaborative, student-centred approaches to teaching and learning, serve to promote student mental health and safety while modelling processes basic to collaborative, strengths-based clinical practice and recovery-oriented mental health care.

For more information, please see Resources in this section.