@TheFikaApp rolls out positive-psychology-led sector support package to keep students and staff positive, motivated and productive during COVID-19 

Mental fitness company Fika is offering all UK higher and further education students and staff access to a free psychological support package in the wake of COVID-19. 

The app-based ‘Cope with Remote’ package is designed by experts to offset the pressures of isolation, anxiety, uncertainty and remote work and study, improving users’ positivity, productivity and engagement in their work and studies. 

The package is already in use by more than 20 institutions, including the Universities of Bristol, Warwick, Nottingham, Liverpool, Buckingham and UCL. It brings together videos from experts, students and staff across the UK, as they share techniques to improve focus and motivation, manage emotions, relax, stay connected, sleep better, reflect positively on the future and more.

The package also includes a ‘Community’ feed, encouraging students and staff to address a new positive-psychology-led question each day, with accompanying video inspiration. Users can post comments in the Community feed, scroll through the feed for inspiration from their peers, and cheer the posts of others to show their support.

Fika has been evidenced to significantly improve students’ life satisfaction, positive affect and sense of self-efficacy during challenging transition periods. The company has spent the past two years building solutions to offset the negative effects of isolation, anxiety, uncertainty and disrupted routine.

As such, says Fika CEO and co-founder Nick Bennett, it was well placed to create a fast-turnaround support package for the sector - halting business as usual at the earliest signs of a crisis to draw on its existing evidence-base and body of work. 

“Universities and colleges have been hard-hit by COVID-19 - academically, financially and emotionally - and up and down the country students and staff are going through an unprecedented period of transition as they adapt to a new normal,” said Bennett. 

“Given our evidence-base in supporting students through periods of transition, uncertainty and disrupted routine, we saw it as our duty of care to respond fast to COVID-19 and roll out a free, sector-wide support package.”

John de Pury, Assistant Director of Policy at Universities UK, said: “Fika’s commitment to help the sector through this period of crisis is laudable. Working at pace, they have produced a digital support package for students and staff to enhance community and individual wellbeing through lockdown and recovery.”

Sir Anthony Seldon, Co-Founder of Action for Happiness and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, which is rolling Fika’s package out across its students and staff, said: “Students and young people want more emotional education and it’s particularly important that they are taught how to manage their mental fitness in difficult times. 

“There are some fundamental building blocks that can make an enormous difference. Learning new things, taking a daily moment to pause and reflect, creating the right living and working environment, all of these steps can have an impact on wellbeing. Mental fitness apps like Fika will help individuals take practical action in regards to their happiness and wellbeing.

“The traditional thinking around mental wellbeing is reactive. We need to help teach young people how to take greater control of their lives, to reduce the chances that they will fall victims to mental illnesses, and to maximise their potential to lead fulfilling lives in tune with their wishes and aspirations.”

Fika’s entire ‘Cope with Remote’ package was created in the six-week period since the UK went into lockdown. It includes expert video guidance from Fika psychologist Dr Fran Longstaff, as well as video contributions filmed remotely on the mobile phones of students, academics and experts across the UK. 

Fika is also collaborating with Middlesex University on a nationwide study exploring COVID-19’s impact on higher education students’ and staff’s physical and mental health. 

The research will look at COVID-19’s impact, both short and long-term, on students’ and staff’s physical and mental health and fitness, as well as work-life balance, and any impact the crisis has had on student/staff anxiety and depression.

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