Socio-emotional skills are in high demand among the student population as they are challenged in various spheres of their lives during the transition to post-secondary education. It’s a time when their identity is taking shape, new interpersonal relationships are being built, and students want to live more independently, determine their career direction, while managing academic demands.

Programs and services aimed at developing resilience strategies and coping skills among the student population are essential to achieving this. The socio-emotional skills generally associated with positive mental health are:

  1. Self-awareness: identifying emotions, accurate self-perception, recognition of strengths, self-esteem, self-efficacy.
  2. Emotional self-regulation: impulsivity control, stress management, self-discipline, self-motivation, goal-setting, organizational skills.
  3. Social awareness: perspective-taking, empathy, openness to diversity, respect for others.
  4. Interpersonal skills: communication, social engagement, relationship building, teamwork, asking for help.
  5. Decision-making: problem recognition, situation analysis, problem solving, evaluation, reflection, ethical responsibility.

Which actions can be taken to foster the development of self-management and coping skills among students?

  • Ensure that workshops aimed at developing socio-emotional skills are accessible to the student population, including off-campus students.
  • Prioritize a variety of media to encourage participation (online, in-person, group, individualized).
  • Use peer support to help develop coping and self-management skills.

Section 3.4 in the Department of Higher Education’s Action Plan on Student Mental Health in Higher Education calls on institutions to contribute to the development of the socio-emotional skills needed to meet these challenges.


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Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur (2021) Plan d’action sur la santé mentale étudiante en enseignement supérieur 2021-2026

Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS). The Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a Systemic Approach

Marcotte, D. et al. (2020) A pilot study of a preventive program for depressive and anxious symptoms during the postsecondary transition

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (2019) CASEL’S SEL Framework – CASEL

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