Universities are working as own corporations, creating a great academic environment to exchange opinions, research, teach and study while everyone can contribute to this internal culture.
The culture of a university is one of the most important issues that defines a university in terms of its reputation, overall satisfaction and attraction to students and staff. Similiar to corporate culture, it provides the foundation of shared values and beliefs to idenitfy oneself as a part of the whole community. A university that invests time and effort in building a stable and healthy internal culture is already one step ahead in creating an excellent academic environment.
In recent years universities have started to consider another key aspect of their culture: Mental Health Care. Among various research studies of different population segments which were undertaken already, the heads of those institutions started to research about the mental health care conditions of their members – ranging from students to staff. Kate Lunau would not describe mental health care services as a simple need on campus, she rather described it in terms of a fatal lack – a mental health crisis.
As the president of the Cornell University, David J. Skorton, acknowledged, after a series of suicide cases on Cornell’s campus, “that these deaths are just the tip of the iceberg, indicative of a much larger spectrum of mental health challenges faced by many on our campus and on campuses everywhere.” An experimental study of Daniel Eisenberg, called “Help-Seeking and Access to Mental Health Care in a University Student Population”, aimed to “quantify mental health service use and estimate how various factors are associated with help-seeking and access in a university student population.”
His conclusion is showing an interesting fact which demands a fast reaction to serve those severe needs:
“Even in an environment with universal access to free short-term psychotherapy and basic health services, most students with apparent mental disorders did not receive treatment. Initiatives to improve access to mental health care for students have the potential to produce substantial benefits in terms of mental health and related outcomes.” (2007)
Nowadays Perked! could help students and staff to be more aware of their own mental health care, learn skills to reduce stress levels and avoid mental illness by precise individual analysis of their mood. Thus, they would have the possibility to react to mental disorders on an early stage. On the other hand, universities also would have the possibility to receive information on how to improve their culture in order to reduce mental illness and increase mental health care awareness.
According to the magazine University Manager, in 2012 “20% of Canadians […] suffer[ed] from mental illness […] aged between 15 to 24 – hence mostly university students – are the most likely group to suffer the effects of mental illnesses, substance dependencies and suicide.”
About 2 million students were enrolled in Canadian universities and colleges in 2011 – 2012 which would make up to ca. 40,000 students struggeling with mental health care issues within this period. Today we can see a slight improvement in those numbers but still on average the offer of mental health care services grows slowly on campus.
Another important fact to consider within this market segment is that Perked! would not only substitute those services on campus up to a specific degree but also would gain a crucial customer group that aims for a successfull career which should offer a good work-life-balance. This group of very young aged academics entering the job market are seeking for opportunities to work within an environment which also considers the mental well-being of their employees as crucial part of organizational culture.