Creating A Student-Centered Wellness Committee
As student mental health and wellness (the active goal of being in good health) remains a focal point on college and university campuses, institutions continue their search for effective resources to address these issues. A student-centered wellness committee is a resource for campuses to consider to information share and implement a coordinated campus-wide wellness effort.
Use this article to better understand the process of creating an undergraduate student-focused wellness committee and its potential benefits for your institution, including risk reduction.
Purpose and Scope
For many institutions, the first step in creating a wellness committee is crafting a mission statement. The statement can help ensure your institution thinks carefully about the purpose and scope of your committee’s charge. As you draft your statement, consider whether the committee is being created to support other initiatives across your institution, such as those housed in the counseling center, or to conceive of its own program from scratch. The purpose and scope will be different at each institution. Tailor the statement to your needs and campus population.
While the focus of this piece is on student-focused committees, many institutions also have an employee wellness committee, or a joint committee, to address health and fitness, increase morale, and avoid burnout. An employee wellness committee, with a similar purpose, scope, and makeup can promote health and wellness across your institution for employees.
Your committee’s composition is critical to its function and impact. Draw from as many campus departments as possible to bring varied perspectives on student needs to better inform and shape the committee’s work. Examples of common committee members include:
- Student affairs
- Counseling center
- Recreation/fitness center
- Career center
- Student advising
Some institutions also include at least one student representative to contribute the student perspective to the committee’s mission and activities.
Once the committee’s composition is set, consider how often your committee will meet and how to divide tasks between committee members, capitalizing on their expertise and connection throughout your campus.
Work Integration and Tasks
Your wellness committee should work to ensure consistency in programming and services across campus. Integrate the committee’s recommendations into various campus departments that may impact or contribute to student well-being. Often, the departments reflected on the committee may most need the committee’s recommendations. If your committee includes a student representative, that student will be able to provide input regarding any student-led initiatives and thoughts on where wellness efforts may be most needed.
Because your team will have cross-departmental collaboration, the committee can help keep tabs on wellness trends and student needs in two areas:
- Trends at your institution, such as increases in counseling center visits or food bank assistance
- National trends in each area of each member’s expertise, such as best practices in counseling centers or stress-reduction programs
Sharing trends will help your institution keep abreast of important developments that multiple departments can then act upon.
If your committee creates well-being programming, draw on member expertise and data about student needs to create that programming. Moreover, consider using specific campus-wide events — such as a wellness festival, yoga, or hikes — to promote student health and well-being. To maximize participation and impact, place these events on a shared, centralized institution calendar.
Creating a comprehensive, cross-department approach to student well-being provides an opportunity to amplify your promotion campaign. To reach the most students, promote your initiative through multiple modes, such as students’ posters, social media postings, and events.
A wellness committee can leverage multidisciplinary expertise that can be particularly helpful for identifying student and employee training gaps and recommendations for subjects to be covered, such as how to respond to a friend in crisis and bystander intervention.
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About the Author
Heather Salko, Esq.
Manager of Risk Research
Heather oversees the development of risk research publications. Her areas of expertise include employment law, Title IX, and student mental health. Before joining the Risk Research team, she practiced employment and insurance coverage law and handled UE liability claims for more than a decade.