Dedication to Wellness – giving

For years, national rates of mental illness among college students have been rising steadily, and some think they have reached crisis-level rates. In a 2021 survey by the Healthy Minds Network, nearly half of students screened positively for clinically significant symptoms of depression, anxiety, or both.

The University of Richmond aims to tackle this crisis in the Spider community through UR Well, a holistic and integrated approach to creating a thriving culture of well-being on campus. A key aspect of this initiative is the Wellbeing Centre, a comprehensive facility that includes all campus health services in one place, providing easy access to students and a calming space for everyone to enjoy.

The idea for the center arose in 2017: the space would bring together campus service providers under one roof to share mental health-related resources and expertise. To reflect an “upward” approach to well-being, the center will provide programs and activities associated with sound decision making and prevention.

Plans for the $20 million building began in April 2018 with generous support from University trustees, alumni, parents and friends. The Wellness Center, opened in 2021, includes the Student Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, as well as health promotion and nutrition services. There is a meditation garden, labyrinth, salt spa and relaxation area with massage chairs and sleeping quarters. Organic Krush Café offers healthy dining options and features a show kitchen where classes are held to teach attendees how to prepare nutritious meals.

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Makayla Callender, 22, spoke about her personal experience with health and wellness at an event held in October 2021 to celebrate the opening of the Wellness Centre. In her talk, she boldly shared her own struggles with different aspects of mental health.

“I actually struggled with an eating disorder that I got help from here on campus,” she said. “I’m also a very involved student, so balancing the number of things I have to do can be difficult. But I am empowered to speak up about my efforts to normalize these conversations.”

Callender tapped into her passion for health and wellness by serving as a student instructor at WELL 100, an introductory course to develop the personal wellness required for all undergraduates. “Classes were held on the second floor of the Weinstein Recreation Center,” she said. “We talked about all aspects of well-being on campus and the resources we have. We also gave the students a tour of the Health Center so that they could learn about the building.”

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Callender, a chemistry graduate who aspires to become a physical therapist, said the opening of the Wellness Center was a boon to the Spider community as it offers students, faculty and staff a place to unwind and reduce stress. While still in college, she said her favorite way to relax was to sit quietly in her meditation garden and listen to podcasts.

“Coming to college is a huge transition period,” he said. “If you are not careful, your mental and emotional health can deteriorate. The Wellness Center puts all the aspects of wellness in one space and introduces them to students early on so they can learn what it means to be a healthy person.”

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Recent developments showing the success of the Wellness Center since its opening:

Counseling and Psychological Services

  • Clinical capacity increased 40% in Counseling and Psychology Services (CAPS) and 60% in Student Health Center (SHM)
  • Extended hours to address record numbers of students seeking care in 2021-2
  • The CAPS Training Program saw the largest cohort of trainees in 2021-22; this allows for increased clinical hours, expanded services and adds more diversity to staff

Show Kitchen

  • 250 students and 140 faculty and staff participated in various proposals
  • Classes were held three times a week, the most popular being Cooking Basics.
  • The monthly nutrition education events highlighted related topics such as nutrition and immunity, food and mood, and creating a balanced plate for students.
  • Special events such as coffee tastings, Valentine’s Day Friends dinner and unique shows by guest chefs were held.

Awards and Recognition

  • 2022 Loyal E. Horton Dining Grand Prize — Organic Krush
  • 2021 Cigna Culture and Health Award
  • 2020 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award

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