There are two convergent realities taking shape across higher education when it comes to student health and wellness that collegiate recreation professionals should recognize to help better empower students.
First, students are more informed about their holistic wellness than ever before through technology and social destigmatization around mental health, food insecurity and other issues. At the same moment, college students aren’t overly healthy as a population. Recent data from the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates 1 in 3 college-aged adults is obese. Up to 44% of students have reported symptoms of depression or anxiety per the Mayo Clinic. And, data from the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice at Temple U reveals three out of five students are experiencing basic needs insecurity.
Addressing these health challenges is key for collegiate recreation professionals as they think about their facilities and how they fit into the larger ecosystem of student wellness on campus. There are several institutions pushing new modes of student health and wellness that represent leading-edge thinking around student health and look as holistically as possible at the student experience. These solutions are also blurring the lines between recreation, wellness, student life and more, leading to critical new partnerships and opportunities.
Here’s a look at three such examples:
- Georgia Tech is implementing a campus-wide plan focused on meeting students where they are. The plan reimagines how health and wellness resources are distributed across its 400-acre campus for improved visibility and access. This plan forges exciting new partnerships for student affairs, residence life and recreation as it pushes programming well beyond traditional and expected locations.
- California State University Northridge (CSUN) is creating a new Basic Needs Suite on its campus. In 2019, CSUN conducted a food security survey and found 48% of their students had low or very low food security. However, many students hadn’t used the campus food pantry due to barriers of stigma, lack of information, etc. The revitalization of the CSUN student union created an exciting opportunity to resolve these issues in the form of the Basic Needs Suite which not only provides students with the resources they need, but does so with an imbued sense of care and dignity.
- The University of Central Florida and Valencia College established a partnership to create UnionWest at Creative Village in the heart of Orlando. This unique partnership allows the institutions to offer holistic, centralized student support programming while revitalizing the historically black community in Orlando. The building offers a recreation center, health and counseling space, and student support services.
For more information on holistic wellness solutions, visit cannondesign.com.