Health and Wellness

Student health and wellness encompasses a broad range of physical, mental, and spiritual services, programs, and environments.  

Strategic planning for student health and wellness involves a campuswide commitment to integrating health and wellness issues across the campus. The effort requires recognizing and changing environments and practices that threaten wellness, increasing access to quality care, and increasing opportunities for students to make choices that positively affect their well-being. Helping students become or remain physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy is a duty of the safe and supportive learning environment. Strategic planning can ensure that health and wellness issues are considered alongside other institutional goals and objectives.

Planners should define health and wellness broadly.

Student health is more than providing medical care for students experiencing illness. Strategic planners must think broadly about the ways in which campus life inside and outside the classroom affects and is affected by the physical, mental, and spiritual health of its students. This includes exploring ways in which campus living and learning environments can enhance and support proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, recreation, positive coping strategies, healthy social and sexual relationships, and a sense of belonging.

Strategic planning for health and wellness must include prevention.

Strategic planners must consider the critical role that prevention plays in helping students make healthy choices. Planners must move beyond educating students about health dangers and develop systems that truly prevent future health problems caused by excessive alcohol use, substance misuse, poor sleep or nutrition, lack of exercise and recreation, and negative coping practices. Opportunities for brief intervention, environmental management, and greater access to services must be forged in the planning process.

National resources are available.

The American College Health Association, among others, has a number of resources that can help guide strategic planners in all aspects of health and wellness, from changes in student insurance and health care created by the Affordable Care Act to strategies to enhance student health and wellness. The association also conducts a national survey of student health and wellness, which institutions can deploy on their own campuses for assessment and planning purposes.



Featured Resources

Cover image of the Safe Place: Trauma-Sensitive Practices for Health Centers Serving Students resource

Encompasses a broad range of material introducing and endorsing trauma-sensitive practice with an emphasis on sexual assault trauma. It is designed specifically for health center staff who serve as primary care providers to students in higher education. These tools are designed to supplement higher education efforts to develop campus-wide plans addressing sexual assault at their institutions. 

National Center for Safe Supportive Learning Environments
Cover image of the Higher Education Update: Reducing Risk During the First Few Weeks on Campus resource

Details what can be done to keep first-year students safe during their first few weeks on campus. Suggests reducing behavioral tendencies that include high-risk alcohol consumption, drug use, hazing, and other behaviors contrary to successful assimilation into college life. 

National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning

Summarizes data contributed to Center for Collegiate Mental Health during the 2015-2016 academic year, closing on June 30, 2016. De-identified data were contributed by 139 college and university counseling centers, describing 150,483 unique college students seeking mental health treatment (a 50% increase over last year); 3,419 clinicians; and over 1,034,510 appointments. The report identifies that the average level of counseling center utilization has grown in the past five years, with anxiety and depression being the top concerns for students seeking counseling.

Center for Collegiate Mental Health Research Team

Summarizes data contributed to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health during the 2016-2017 academic year, beginning July 1, 2016 and ending on June 30, 2017. De-identified data were contributed by 147 college and university counseling centers, describing 161,014 unique college students seeking mental health treatment, 3,592 clinicians, and 1,255,052 appointments.

Addresses sensitive issues in sexual health and well-being. Callisto websites provide students with an online forum for recording incidents of sexual assault, accessing more information on school and district specific reporting protocols, and a database that alerts schools when an assailant has assaulted multiple people. 

Cover image of the Addressing Basic Needs Security in Higher Education: An Introduction to Three Evaluations of Supports for Food and Housing at Community Colleges resource

Evaluates three new promising approaches to addressing food and housing insecurity. All three programs were developed by community colleges and their partners based on their local needs, resources, and opportunities. 

Sara Goldrick-Rab, Katharine M. Broton, & Daphne C. Hernandez

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