Inside Look: Wellness Centers

Campus wellness centers integrate services for the mind and body, creating a one-stop-shop for student health needs

More diverse student populations demand more of the health and wellness services offered on campus today. Colleges and universities must meet the unique needs of veterans, and students who are international, older, recovering from addictions, or who have physical or mental disabilities. Many schools are meeting this challenge by combining physical and mental health services under one roof, and even integrating recreation into the mix.

The case for a comprehensive wellness center on campus has never been stronger, explains Jenny Haubenreiser, executive director of student health services at Oregon State University. “The need for primary care is acute in this country, particularly for students, and especially if they’re coming in from out of town,” she says. “There is a consumer literacy piece to the Affordable Care Act—including networks, copays, deductibles and more—that we can help with.”

Oregon State links health, psychological and academic services. A card-swiping system tracks student interaction with various departments on campus, and a two-tiered survey process logs consumer satisfaction and invites suggestions for improvement. In this way, student behavior can be closely monitored, and departments can work together to create a cohesive treatment plan for patients.

This kind of technology enhances the health services, says M. Jacob Baggott, executive director of student health and wellness at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. “As more interactions with technology provide online options, the number of phone calls is reduced, sometimes freeing up staff and space to be used for patient/client care areas,” he says.

A holistic approach to campus wellness is not limited to health services. The student health services department at Oregon State works closely with campus housing as well as Greek communities to promote wellness, says Haubenreiser. Health services will also work with local law enforcement during high-risk weekends.

See examples of how universities and colleges are innovating, moving wellness services from an afterthought to an integral part of student life on campus.

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