This year, St. Thomas’ Wellness Center plans to create seven Health Advisory Councils to help improve student health.
These councils will deal with issues relevant to student life at St. Thomas including nutrition, physical activity, alcohol use, relationships, stress, financial issues and sleeping issues. The councils will contain student, faculty and staff members and will meet three to five times a year starting next semester.
The idea for the councils came from a core survey the Wellness Center passes around campus every two years. About 1,500 surveys were filled out by members of the St. Thomas community during the last survey. With the information gathered from these surveys, the Wellness Center decided which core areas to focus on.
“We thought that if we could gather professionals or experts in those fields from other areas on the campus, we’d be able to inform our programming even better than we do now,” said Sara Gustafson, graduate assistant for the Wellness Center.
The councils will generate information about the seven topic areas by hosting discussions with experts from departments on campus.
“It pulls together this idea that if we can get experts from like the psych department or the counseling department, for example, to help with our stress or mental health programming, then it will maybe give us new ideas for different directions we can go in when supporting students,” Gustafson said.
Students are also welcome to help out with the councils.
“I think it’s a great idea if students want to get involved and want to contribute,” Gustafson said. “Maybe our students can take this information and generate new ideas or just have a broader depth of understanding of the current issues,”
Some students said the panels are a good idea.
“I think that it would be really helpful,” senior Martha Tobin said. “I hope, though, that they keep them as original and interesting as possible. If so, I would definitely attend.”
Senior Taylor Melius agreed.
“I think that it is a good idea to offer the councils,” she said. “Students who want to receive more information in these areas should have an opportunity like these councils.”
Maggie Clemensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.