New name, mission and website for health promotion and prevention | UB today

Changes include a strengthened Student Health Ambassador program and a new Student Advisory Council to launch in fall 2022

The past two years have been difficult for everyone, and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an immense increase in the need for additional mental and physical health services on college campuses across the United States. United. The BU administration had signaled its support for providing more resources even before the pandemic. President Robert A. Brown included the goal of establishing an integrated approach to wellness and health in his most recent strategic plan. And earlier this week, the University announced two changes to student welfare services, in the hope that they will lead to increased visibility and access to resources.

First, wellness and prevention services (under the umbrella of Student Health Services [SHS]) was renamed Health Promotion and Prevention and has a new mission: to improve the physical and mental health of students through education, campus community engagement, and student leadership development. The announcement follows the appointment last fall of Carrie Landa, Director of SHS Behavioral Medicine, as BU’s first Executive Director of Student Wellness. This new department within the Provost’s Office focuses on the holistic well-being of students in all dimensions – emotional, social, physical and professional.

“Boston University continues to recognize the critical role that health and wellness play in students feeling a sense of belonging to our community and in their academic success,” write Landa and Judy Platt, Director of Health and executive director of SHS, in a letter sent to the University on March 16. “We look forward to improving support for student health and wellness through the unique missions of our offices, as well as through our shared vision of a campus where wellness is accessible to all students.”

Katharine Mooney (SPH’12) leads the Redesigned Health Promotion and Prevention. His team will focus on issues such as substance use, sexual health and mental health.

Mooney says the challenges of the previous two years have led to an immense increase in need. “We’ve found that there needs to be a bit of a focus on raising awareness of the services and resources available, so we’re really going to look at how we can facilitate that in a student-centric way” , she says. “For some students, that may not mean meeting a one-on-one counselor, but attending a support group, mindfulness session, or Tai Chi class at Marsh Chapel. And I think that’s a strategy that Student Health Services is really looking forward to putting in place so that students feel accessible and have a stronger foundation and understanding of what’s available.

The department will support the Terriers Connect prevention program (which trains members of the BU community to notice signs of distress in students and help them seek help) and will conduct mindfulness workshops on topics such as essential skills for resilience and movement. Additionally, it will launch a new Student Health Advisory Council next fall, develop health literacy tools, and expand community outreach through programs such as Student Health Ambassadors, which train students to undergraduates to talk to their peers about mental health, sexual wellness, and navigate BU resources.

“We know peer-to-peer messaging is so powerful,” says Mooney. “Student Health Services may have information or a message that we hope to get out to the community, and students can pass on that same message and it will just resonate differently. So we’ve worked closely with our Student Health Ambassadors, who then consult with us on our programming and even our directions and priorities that we adopt as an office.

Another priority will be helping students learn how to better navigate their own healthcare, with new tools on the website and possibly a workshop next fall aimed at demystifying things like scheduling appointments. , health insurance and referrals. “What happens when you call behavioral medicine and that person picks up the phone, what questions do they ask? How’s that first date going? Mooney poses. “These are very simple things that many students see as a barrier to seeking help. And so, if we have a role to play in demystifying some of that and clarifying what to expect, hopefully that will also increase access.

Mooney says the two separate offices, both dedicated to student wellness and health, fill a critical need.

“Students must feel good to succeed academically, but also feel a sense of belonging to our community and progress on their own. professional activities,” she said. “And so it’s a recognition of that fact, and the drive to really make wellness an institutional value.”

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