Studying in Good Health at Sciences Po: Healthcare and Health Promotion Services

Studying in Good Health at Sciences Po: Healthcare and Health Promotion Services

  • Students - 1 Saint Thomas, Paris campus ©Martin ArgyrogloStudents - 1 Saint Thomas, Paris campus ©Martin Argyroglo

Sciences Po is particularly attentive to students’ wellbeing, which is essential for both their personal fulfillment and academic success. What health and wellness services are available for Sciences Po students? Francesca Cabiddu, director of Student Services, explains.

What health and wellness services are available at Sciences Po? How does Sciences Po facilitate student access to healthcare?

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The university’s ambitious, well-funded health policy has considerably improved the health (and often social) support available to students, especially through the establishment of free health consultations on every campus. The policy has two main strands. The first is access to primary care; the second concerns the many health promotion and education activities that the university runs in collaboration with its partners. Sciences Po serves nearly 15,000 students across its seven campuses and our health system allows them to access primary care free of charge through its Health centres. Consultations are conducted by doctors who speak English, ensuring care is provided in the best possible conditions - including for international students.

Special attention is paid to psychological support. Almost all campuses provide at least three half-days of medical and/or nursing care per week (excluding university holidays), with more extensive provision in Paris and Reims given the higher student numbers. In total, around 35 health professionals are present, part-time, across all campuses.
Sciences Po also offers a broad range of care services through the Care, Health and Wellbeing workshops on all campuses, where students can learn to relax, manage stress, and understand themselves better. The workshops provide simple, practical tools, for coping with exams for example. They help students build healthy attitudes and lifestyles and deal with certain emotions (anger, fear, shame, etc.).
During the health crisis and lockdowns, wellness practices like these were essential to help achieve physical and mental relaxation and regain some balance.
In addition, there are 20 "Student Health Representatives (ERS)" across our campuses. Their mission is to organise health promotion and education activities in collaboration with the Health Centre, Sciences Po voluntary organisations, and external partners. They provide students with information and advice on topics such as sleep, addictions, nutrition, and sexual health.
 
Initiatives implemented in 2021-22 include: 
  • A breast cancer information campaign to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month (known in France as “Octobre rose”) and a bra drive for Plus Rose la Vie, a non-profit organisation that raises awareness among women and men about breast cancer prevention.  
  •  Nutrition workshops in collaboration with the student association PAVéS: four breakfast events where the first meal of the day is provided free of charge—and therefore accessible to everyone—with advice on how to make it balanced. Topics covered over breakfast: balanced meals, nutrition, plant-based diets, food insecurity, and eating disorders. 
  •  Mental Health Week in partnership with the student association Stimuli: a poster campaign and a conference with the participation of La maison perchée, a non-profit that supports young adults living with a mental disorder, etc.
  • Sexual Health Info Day: an information booth and the opportunity to get tested, in collaboration with the non-profit CheckPoint.

​The role of the Student Health Reps is also to provide clear, comprehensive information on the health services available at the Sciences Po Health Centre and partner health facilities. Their work is supervised by staff from Student Services and one of the Sciences Po doctors.

Is there urgent support available for students most in need?

Access to the Health Centre is free of charge and with a team of 35 professionals across the different campuses, students can get the care they need fast. The Health Centre’s practitioners draw on a large, diverse network of health professionals, and work closely with the Sciences Po Student Welfare and Support Office.

Sophrology, relaxation, singing... What do the wellbeing services involve?

The Health Centre workshops help students with everyday stress management from a preventive approach, as well as having a therapeutic and/or symptomatic treatment dimension. They are organised around semi-closed groups to facilitate productive process-based work.

How has Sciences Po responded to the latest issues related to student health, such as SGBV, Covid, and disability inclusion?

Academic success and graduate employability are key issues and presuppose a fulfilling student life and overall wellbeing (physical and psychological health, social life, etc.). Since the health crisis began, these issues have become all the more pressing. For several years now, Sciences Po has adopted a policy in support of student success that aims to provide the best possible study conditions through reliable, adaptable and responsive financial, social and health support services and resources. This enabled an effective response during the crisis. The support is local and personalised, which allows us to take account of the everyday demands of student life and provide a response to the difficulties that any student may face, wherever they live, in France or abroad.
During the pandemic, doctors were particularly attentive to feedback from the ground and took charge when necessary. Several awareness, screening, and vaccination campaigns were organised on and off campus. Free masks and self-tests were distributed so that students could protect themselves and others.
 
Regarding sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), the specific measures that Sciences Po has taken are not new. A sexual harassment monitoring unit was set up in 2015 and since autumn 2021, a new system has been put in place to provide a tailored response for survivors and to raise awareness of SGBV prevention throughout the university community.
The system includes:
  • a listening, support, and reporting service
  • systematic internal investigations following each report, so that the facts can be established independently and as thoroughly and incontrovertibly as possible
  • the implementation of a coherent and comprehensive SGBV awareness plan for the entire Sciences Po community, complemented by a range of in-depth training for certain groups identified on the basis of their roles, in order to promote a culture of care and respect in all situations
  • the implementation of prevention and control measures for situations identified as most at risk, particularly in relation to student life and cyberbullying.

Finally, with regard to disability and accessibility, Sciences Po instituted an equal opportunity policy 20 years ago which ensures that all talented students can access our programmes. The Sciences Po Accessible programme is central to this policy. It is a strong, responsible commitment that opens Sciences Po’s doors to students with disabilities and supports them throughout their studies, from admission to their entry into the workforce.

The Sciences Po Editorial Team

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