Website Wednesday

Have you seen what Michael Russell and his cohort of Wellness Center managers and interns are up to at the Wellness Center Website?

You should.

And you should let your students know about it, too.

They’re posting stuff like time management tips, and other fun stuff, serious stuff, interesting stuff, useful stuff, relaxing stuff. It’s good stuff.  And they’re taking suggestions, too.

I’ve put the link in the blogroll so you can get there easily. And if you see Michael, let him know what you think of it. Personally, I can’t really believe how lucky we were (as a college and a system) to get Mike on our team. He does some amazing work.

Hope you check it out.


Troubling News about Freshmen

They’re stressed.

The emotional health of college freshmen — who feel buffeted by the recession and stressed by the pressures of high school — has declined to the lowest level since an annual survey of incoming students started collecting data 25 years ago.

In the survey, “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010,” involving more than 200,000 incoming full-time students at four-year colleges, the percentage of students rating themselves as “below average” in emotional health rose. Meanwhile, the percentage of students who said their emotional health was above average fell to 52 percent. It was 64 percent in 1985.

Lots more on the survey is available here.

Wellness Center Groups

Have you announced these to your classes yet?

Dear Friends of the Wellness Center:
Two of the Wellness Center’s support groups may be particularly helpful for stressed out students as we head into the second half of the term.  I encourage you to share this information with your classes.
Overcoming Stress Support Group:  This very popular group assists members in evaluating their stress levels and supports them in developing a stress reduction plan.  The group is primarily experiential in that members learn stress reduction techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, visualization, and the use of body awareness as a biofeedback method for gauging stress levels. Meets Mondays, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Busy Moms’ Support Group:  This group offers support and resource sharing for students who are mothers.  Members are supported in stress reduction, shared childcare, identification of social support services (including low-cost childcare), time management, and realistic goal setting for academic pursuits.  Because these moms are always “on the run,” the group offers the opportunity to make friends and feel more connected to the HWC community.  Meets Fridays, 9:30 – 10:45 a.m.  A second group may start on Thursday afternoons.
Interested students should stop by the Wellness Center, Room 733, or call us at 312-553-6072.  Thanks for supporting our students and the Wellness Center!
Mike Russell,
Manager, The Wellness Center

Wellness Center Data Report

I mentioned the other day that Michael Russell, the Director of the Wellness Center (Room 711), visited the March Faculty Council meeting to talk about their work with our students.

He brought us a really impressive report that lays out the (reportable) data from their last two semesters, showing in numerical terms how much the center means to our college. You can check out the full report here (thanks, Michael, for sending it!), and I think you’ll be as impressed as the Council was. We all know that the students we serve need a lot of help, and academic struggles are only a part–often a small part. The fuller we get, the more help is needed, but in a zero sum game (we only have so much time and availability, after all) that means that everyone gets less. If you think you’re having a hard time keeping up with your students’ needs now, imagine if there were no Wellness Center.

But Michael wasn’t there to brag. The context of his visit was in part to discuss the issue of campus security, and with the hopes of soliciting ideas from faculty about how to effectively help faculty with their issues with students. One of the primary points of Michael’s presentation was that the Wellness Center is a part of the triumvirate of behavioral resources on campus and that they each have a specific role, differentiated into A) safety threats, B) disruptive behaviors, and C) disturbed behaviors. If in doubt, he suggested, the first call should be to Security, which is there, in Mr. Rozelle’s words, “to maintain order and restore order when it has been disrupted;” in other circumstances, where there is not immediate danger, the Associate Dean of Student Services, Mario Diaz, provides evaluations of disruptive students (when security gets called) and interventions when requested by faculty for disciplinary action or warnings; in other sorts of situations, there is the Wellness Center, which takes walk-ins, referrals, and, sometimes, disruptive students for evaluations at the recommendation of Mario. In other words, it is not the Center’s role to mediate disputes between faculty and students or students and students, but they are happy and hopeful to get involved after the disruption has fizzled and security is not an issue.

In the words of their brochure, the Center is and is meant to be “a safe place to talk.”

Michael recognizes, though, that it is not an easy thing to tell a student that s/he needs some help, just as he recognizes the volume and urgency of student needs. Two of the primary ways students heard about the Center were through brief classroom presentations by the Center’s interns and the Center’s publications.

So, clearly, two ways we can help our students are to schedule presentations and to have some of the Center’s materials in our offices and classrooms. Michael is also very interested in getting some feedback on how the Center can support faculty. Doing a presentation on referring students during Professional Development Week was one possibility mentioned , development of a referral protocol (i.e., some common, safe language to use with students) was another, CAST workshops on topics like de-escalating conflicts and mediation techniques also came up.

What do you need? What would you go to? When would you want it to happen and in what format? Post some ideas here,  and I’ll make sure that Michael sees them.