Health & Wellness Collaborative Launches
In January, a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially launched the Center for Well-Being, a groundbreaking model of wellness programming and support for the campus community. To help foster a more holistic approach to student health and well-being, the university has co-located the center with Student Health Services and Student Development and Counseling Center offices. The convergence of these three entities, plus WPI’s Office of Accessibility Services, comprises WPI’s pioneering Health & Wellness Collaborative.
“The connection between mind, body, and spirit is undeniable, and the creation of the Center for Well-Being and the establishment of the Health & Wellness Collaborative demonstrates a thoughtful and holistic approach to more fully supporting the wellness of every individual in the WPI community,” said Interim President Winston “Wole” Soboyejo. “Academic success is best achieved when a student’s needs are met such that they can thrive both in and out of the classroom. This ethos of care also extends to supporting our faculty and staff in their work. I am truly grateful for all who worked tirelessly to bring this center—and this collaborative—to fruition, and I believe WPI’s experience can ultimately benefit others.”
Now all colleges and universities must gain a better understanding of how mental health and well-being intersect with the rigors of higher education so that we can identify opportunities to better support our communities.
The opening of the Center for Well-Being is the culmination of years of planning to centralize a broad range of services to support students in an integrated approach that recognizes the important connections between physical health, mental health, overall well-being, and academic and professional success. Guided by input from an internal Mental Health and Well-Being Task Force composed of students, faculty, and staff and collaborations with external consultants, this new Center will allow WPI to apply evidence-based practices that promote well-being for students and the broader campus community, recognizing the importance of faculty and staff in creating, maintaining, and modeling a healthier environment for all.
Importantly, all components of the Center and Collaborative are built on engagement and connection and provide not only programming and resources for individuals to support their own wellness, but for advisors, guides, and peers to help along the way, as well as for structural and systems level changes to better support the well-being of the community.
The center includes a welcome desk staffed by students serving as peer well-being ambassadors, staff offices, and a wellness hub with comfortable seating where students can connect with each other or relax to the gentle and soothing sounds of water flowing in the waterfall feature. The Center also features a programming room for hosting wellness activities (such as meditation or yoga) and a rest and recovery room equipped with a zero-gravity chair, compression boots, and red light therapy to virtually connect with nature and find balance and grounding with restorative content.
“Although these initiatives were years in the making, the importance of this work was underscored and accelerated in the last academic year—a time that brought unprecedented challenges and a major focus on mental health and well-being to the WPI campus,” said Charlie Morse, dean of student wellness. “Young people everywhere are grappling with a mental health crisis that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now all colleges and universities must gain a better understanding of how mental health and well-being intersect with the rigors of higher education so that we can identify opportunities to better support our communities.”