Nearly a year ago, the American Psychological Association released a survey warning about the impact the stress of the pandemic would have on long-term physical and mental health.
And that was after the mental health crisis had made its strong debut in the industry. As such, it seems wellness trends are continuing in much of the same direction.
For instance, Ryan McNicholas, the director of Campus Recreation at Youngstown State University, said programs dealing with stress were growing even before the pandemic. “Over the last several years, we’ve seen a lot of stress management and stress relief programs being successful because of the stressful situation college students are in daily,” he said.
EXTRA CREDIT: Campus Rec Magazine asked professionals in the industry what they predict will be paramount in terms of campus recreation trends this coming year.
These programs intertwine with group exercise classes. McNicholas shared they partner with the Student Counseling Center and Meridian Health Care to offer educational pieces either before, during or after the class. “Students want something that’s engaging, fun and exciting,” he said. “They don’t want the standard lecture series or things of that nature.”
This has also included more unique programs. For example, McNicholas shared their most popular program is when they bring puppies to campus. “So they’ll come in and interact with them. But then we’ll have information provided about how that helps with stress management,” he said. “I think another trend is just the fun atmosphere.”
Yvette Kell, the director of Campus Recreation at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, said they will also be focusing on providing stress relief through exercise, as well as mindful eating/meditation. “The programs, coupled with continually offering support through providing space for our community to gather, will be very important this year,” she said. “Students have expressed the need for more programming focused on bringing people together while being safe.”
Like Kell, McNicholas foresees social wellness and social interactions as increasingly prevalent. That includes staff. As such, he suggested:
- Team building activities
- Going for a walk together
- Kayaking as a group
However, not everyone will want the same thing. Kell noted some won’t be ready to come back in-person for a long time. Others will crave the personal touch. “We continue to try different things to work to meet the students and community where they are,” she said. “Finding that balance requires us to continually assess how a program is being received. We talk with our students and work with our student staff teams to help us provide the best possible programs and services for our community.”
EXTRA CREDIT: Read about Puppies and Patriots, a nonprofit business that hosts an annual event on Memorial Day weekend at Clemson University.
And those programs don’t come about by themselves. McNicholas shared partnerships and collaboration are going to be extremely important during this time of limited resources. To provide the stress management and relief is going to take a village.
“You might have to partner with another department, another agency, another area to offer something similar [to what you offered before the pandemic],” said McNicholas. “I think partnerships and collaboration are going to be extremely important. They could provide those resources you might not be able to provide yourself.”