A Culture of Wellness
Denison’s partnership with the JED Foundation supports best mental health practices on campus. Denison’s JED Healthy Campus Team, a committee of faculty, staff and students, collaborates to launch initiatives in support of a healthy campus culture, keeping mental health and wellness front and center in our community.
Building on a year of success:
The Prioritizing Wellness Campaign featured faculty, staff, and students who shared their tips for making wellness an important part of their lives. JED Team Member and Assistant Vice President for Student Development Julie Tucker says, “On a busy college campus, wellness is something that all too often gets back-burnered. We often first commit to academics, research projects, campus jobs, and student organizations. The campaign reminds us and gives us a model to foreground wellness, including mindfulness, mental health, nutrition, sleep, and exercise.”
Ben Daleiden, associate director of Residential Communities, led a “Bounce Back” campaign to build resilience. At a table in Slayter Union, students identified their own strategies for bouncing back. Daleiden reflects, “This campaign humanized the struggles we all go through. As people wrote their tips, you could see them affirming each other and laughing as they told stories. It was remarkable to see the connections being made.”
A suicide prevention program teaches the warning signs of suicide and how to identify and respond to those signs in a student, peer or colleague. Counseling Center staff provided the QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Gatekeeper Training, for faculty, staff, and student leaders.
Dr. Kadian Miracle, staff psychologist at Denison’s Whisler Center for Student Wellness, emphasized the importance of QPR Training. “Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. Trained QPR gatekeepers play a crucial role in connecting those at risk for suicide to available effective treatments.”
Miracle continues, “Teaching QPR to the community helps combat stigma around mental health and the view of suicide as a taboo subject. QPR gatekeepers on campus are having more open conversations about suicide and prevention in their daily life, with other students and colleagues. This increases the odds that those at risk will be more likely to access help.”
One of JED’s goals is to make emotional well-being and suicide prevention a campus-wide responsibility. Having this work resting primarily on health and counseling centers is no longer effective in meeting the needs of today’s college students. In addition to Denison’s JED Team, other campus departments and committees are leading wellness initiatives, integrating this approach to wellness across campus. Some examples include:
- A Women’s Wellness Weekend, an off-campus student retreat to strengthen wellness practices, build resilience, and pause for personal reflection, supported by a team of faculty and staff.
- Three kitchen classes provided students to gain skills in cooking nutritious meals, offered by Bon Appetit, Denison’s Dining Service, and Student Development.
- New skill-building workshops, like AIR and CALM, that support of student mental health, launched by the Counseling Center.
- The Mindfulness Orientation provided an introduction to mindful practices for students to build upon throughout their Denison careers, offered by The Open House, Denison’s Center for Religious & Spiritual Life.
What’s in store next for the JED team? Two of the priorities for 2018-2019 are promoting social connectedness and resilience, says Miracle. The JED Healthy Campus Team wants to encourage a community where we acknowledge that we’ve all experienced failure, strive to bounce back from it, and celebrate the learning opportunity from these moments. In addition, the team will continue to build a whole-campus approach to supporting wellness.