Posted August 18, 2016 by Scarlett Winters 

Supporting Student Mental and Emotional Wellness

Outdoor Lounge at The Oasis Wellness Center, California State University-NorthridgeIn mid-August the college campus starts to once again fill with students excited to meet new friends and enjoy the welcome week activities our members have been working hard to plan and implement for them. The energy is palpable. Within a few weeks, some of that energy can easily turn into unhealthy amounts of stress as personal and academic demands, homesickness, and other harsh realities of campus life set in. This Commons article provides a few examples of how a few exemplary campuses help students improve their mental and emotional health during the academic year.

Earlier this year, Jimmy Francis presented an ACUI Live program on The Oasis Wellness Center at California State University–Northridge. The Oasis is located in the University Student Union and provides a place where students can take a nap, meditate, receive acupuncture, or attend a workshop on managing stress. You can view the On Demand version of this program to learn how and why they created this space and get ideas for your own union wellness center. The Oasis is open Monday through Friday during times when the campus is at its busiest. This allows students to stop in between classes or during study breaks to recover from poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, and the mental/emotional stress they are dealing with on a daily basis.

The Indiana Memorial Union and Indiana University also has a Health and Wellness Center. The Center provides a variety of services, including massage, diet assessments, aromatherapy, and biofeedback. In addition to functional body age assessments and tobacco cessation support, students can participate in a four-week wellness program that takes place in one of the dorms and touches on different areas of health and wellness, including hydration, physical activity, nutrition, and stress and sleep. The Center is also working on a wellness and stress management program for employees. The Health and Wellness Education Staff will even come to your classroom or dorm to give presentations on life enhancement topics.

While not every union has the resources to create a wellness space, union and student affairs professionals are in a good position to connect students to other resources on campus such as counseling centers. Some even provide legal services for students struggling with landlord problems or other challenges. At the University of Sydney, Counselling and Psychological Services advertises their services on the Campus Life section of the university website. These services go beyond just individual counseling appointments; they also offer online meditation recordings and workshops on various wellness topics.

If you haven’t already, find out what resources are available for students on your campus. You can visit ACUI On Demand to learn more about acting as a bridge between students and wellness services on campus by viewing programs on Creating a Culture of Wellness on Campus and the Emotional Health of the College Student. Then, you will be ready to help the students you serve reach their highest potential.

 

Scarlett Winters

Scarlett Winters is the Online Engagement Specialist at ACUI.

Scarlett serves as liaison to the ACUI communities of practice and Online Learning Team, and is librarian for The Exchange digital resource library. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in instructional systems technology from Indiana University.

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