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Our projects helped us get closer to incorporating wellness initiatives into all aspects of the college student experience. Wellness is the act of practicing healthy habits daily to attain better physical and mental health outcomes. Models to define and measure wellness are abundant and holistic, including dimensions of physical, emotional, social, occupational, and environmental health.
To examine the practices most relevant to student success, we focused on three primary dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, and social. Our investigations focused on services and programs that addressed these specific components of wellness.
- Physical wellness: Promoting practices and information about managing physical activity, diet, sleep, and other moderate to high-risk behaviors such as substance use.
- Emotional/mental wellness: Effectively utilizing coping skills, developing a growth mindset, managing stress, and changing thinking to impact mood positively.
- Social wellness: Developing a sense of connection, belonging, healthy relationships, and support system/community.
Our overarching goal was to investigate how universities can promote access to wellness resources to all students. We performed our research at the micro-level (classroom setting) and the mezzo-level (university-wide).
- Classroom setting: Demonstrate that exposing students to wellness resources, such as mindfulness and wellness messages, within course content (Pharmacy 134) would improve students' wellbeing as measured through a perceived stress scale and resilience scale.
- University-wide: Create an inventory of student wellness services and programs available at UW-Green Bay and identify how students discover and access wellness resources.
Students were offered mindfulness sessions at the beginning of each class session and weekly wellness messages (to improve their physical, emotional, and social wellness). Students’ perceived stress levels and resilience were measured (using the perceived stress scale and Connor-Davidson resilience scale) before and after ten weeks of exposure to wellness resources.
Following this intervention, students demonstrated decreased perceived stress levels (from 18.95 to 17.09) and improved resilience (from 26.76 to 29.30). Our findings suggest that conducting mindfulness sessions in classrooms and sharing wellness messages promotes student wellness. Hence, providing training to faculty members to embed wellness in their classrooms or courses would be an effective way to improve student wellness.
An asset mapping process was used to organize wellness-related resources in a meaningful way. Asset maps can serve as an organizational tool, allowing one to visually identify strengths or assets within a community. It can unveil redundancies and suggest opportunities for collaborations or improvements.
Utilizing data on asset mapping from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, an asset mapping process was conducted with the following steps.
- Individual interviews were conducted with students and students serving as professional mentors to identify student familiarity with wellness resources.
- Next, 12 data sets were reviewed related to programs, services, and communications on wellness-related services.
- Investigators then interviewed 14 professionals from departments whose services or programs focused on wellness.
- Finally, wellness resources were coded (programs, services, positions, locations) and plotted on the UW-Green Bay Campus map.
Findings from the asset mapping process revealed that students could easily identify counseling as the primary wellness-related student resource on UWGB’s four campuses. Students were most likely to utilize a wellness-related resource if referred to them by a peer, peer mentor, trusted faculty, or staff.
However, they were unlikely to utilize the wellness resources via websites. Instead, they use institution-sponsored social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok. A review of the asset map suggested opportunities to promote wellness resources in orientation and university communication strategy.
See the fellows' blogs from the capstone projects
Shankar Munusamy, Erin Van Daalwyk, and others participated in EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship in fall 2021