Worcester JCR announced that they are providing all of its members with free access to the meditation and mindfulness app, Headspace.
JCR members will be able to freely access the service by logging on with their Worcester email address, with JCR Vice President and Treasurer, Damon Falck, praising the service as helping provide “a little more mental support” in this “strange, strange term” and “keep our community spirit alive and well until we all get to see each other again.”
The Headspace app provides users with personalised meditation plans, with guided meditations lasting from one minute to more expansive courses with daily components, and claims to be able to reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and help with studying. Subscription is typically £9.99 a month, or £49.99 annually.
Falck told The Oxford Student that in the lead up to the policy, Worcester JCR had set up a “special committee” as the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown started to unfold, to determine how best to support JCR members. College members were then asked in a survey what measures they would prefer the JCR to take, with a free subscription to a mindfulness app coming out on top and Headspace as the most recommended option.
Falck went on to say that students would be finding it difficult to tackle “the huge Oxford workload without the respite and support of the extracurriculars and face-to-face social interaction with friends and loved ones that we’re all used to – especially with the stress and uncertainty of finals looming for so many”.
Finalists are particularly under pressure with the prospect of their degree grade being determined by remote exams. The recent SU Teaching and Assessment Student Consultation found that open-book online exams, the most common method of finals that will take place this Trinity, were the most unpopular method of examination among students, with concerns about technical issues and the potential for cheating being highlighted.
Worcester finalist, Eve Stollery, studying English, told The Oxford Student: “I’ve been using Headspace for over two years now ever since I started to develop anxiety in my first year. Given the weird world we’re all living in at the minute, I personally find meditation really useful as the routine provides a little bit of stability in what was already a stressful time period as a finalist.”
A paper from Headspace linked in the post where the announcement was made, titled ‘The Science behind Headspace’, highlights studies stating how meditation and mindfulness can have positive benefits not just for students but a wide range of people in different situations, from those diagnosed with terminal conditions such as cancer, to those suffering from stress and burnout due to work in hospitals.
Other policies implemented by the Worcester JCR include the funding of online daily challenges, with prizes including chocolates pidged to members to be collected once they can return to college, as well as the maintenance of a Worcester Minecraft Server.
Oxford University has sought to provide mental health support to students by providing a free 24 hour subscription to Big White Wall, an online community of anonymous members who provide shared and lived experience of struggles with exam stress, relationship issues, isolation, depression and anxiety, with students also able to access self-guided courses to promote wellbeing.