Original Research

Sustaining student wellness in higher educational institutions: Possible design principles and implementations strategies

Karien Henrico
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 18, No 1 | a1114 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v18i1.1114 | © 2022 Karien Henrico | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 July 2021 | Published: 31 January 2022

About the author(s)

Karien Henrico, Department of Emergency Medical Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Popular discourse identifies education as the cure for many of society’s ills. However, surviving university is often seen as a period in which students face a unique array of challenges. Many students begin their tertiary education as holistically-well individuals, but due to the stressors related to University, students often show incremental signs of psychological, physical and emotional distress. These often lead to a decrease in academic competence and severe professional ramifications. The aim of this study was to identify design principles and explore the perceptions of professionals concerning possible implementation strategies that could be suitable for Higher Educational Institutions, particularly Health Science and Medical School students. A qualitative, three-phase multi-approach design was used in this study. Phase one was conducted by means of an explorative desktop literature review, there after phase 2 included a self-management, self-coaching and appreciative coaching concept map, that was aligned to concepts within the current individual wellness literature and in phase 3, Appreciative Inquiry based focus group discussions were held with various professional in the field of coaching, education, and healthcare. Wellness programmes are impacted by the fact that Higher Education Institutions face unique challenges such as time, financial constraints, and an already overloaded curriculum. Five design principles were described, and various implementation strategies explored. There is a fundamental necessity to address the distortion of wellness within HE. A key finding in this study suggests that combining self-coaching, appreciative coaching and self-management principles could facilitate a successful individual wellness programme for higher educational students.


wellness; wellbeing; student wellness; higher education; individual wellness; wellness strategies


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