Supporting Student Wellness: Undergraduate Program Launches New Well-Being Initiative
The well-being of college students across the nation has come into greater focus as the pressures of college life are exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. From isolation and remote learning to seeking job opportunities, the need for support to address mental health is pressing for many students. To help undergraduate students throughout all stages of their education, the Undergraduate Program Office launched the McDonough Initiative on Student Formation and Well-Being to engage and encourage spiritual, physical, and intellectual growth across students’ entire experience of wellness.
For many parents, their child’s well-being is of the utmost importance – especially while they are away from home. For Patrica Grant, senior associate dean for the Undergraduate Program, it was important to address the trend they were seeing in students who were increasingly concerned about their well-being.
“During these turbulent times, it is so important for us to be in community with one another,” said Grant. “We want to provide an open connection between the school, parents, and students so they know we are here for them and there are resources available.”
Survey research and focus groups
Over the course of the last three years, the Undergraduate Program teamed up with the Office of Assessment and Decision Support (OADS) to conduct extensive survey research and organize focus groups of undergraduate students. The results helped identify problem areas, those affected, and how the school as a whole can improve together as a community to address student needs for more well-being services.
Their research was measured in three categories: belonging, engagement, and those experiencing a mid-college slump. Findings showed that students involved in student clubs and organizations reported feeling happier and more connected to the school, while other results revealed certain groups desire more engagement.
“The overall response was very positive and we want the students and their families to know we care about their well-being because it is the foundation and core principle we must acknowledge to help us improve as a community,” said Justin Smith, assistant dean for student success, McDonough School of Business.
Smith noted the helpful insights and suggestions from students that helped launch initiatives like Wellness Wednesdays, Ad Astra Retreats, Holistic Advising, and Intercultural Excellence. The program also partnered with several offices to launch the initiative, including Health Education Services, PNC Bank, Yates Field House, Student Financial Services, Counseling and Psychiatric Service (CAPS), and more.
Georgetown has fostered well-being since its inception as a Jesuit institution rooted in the development of the whole person – caring for the mind, body, and spirit of each person.
“This kind of initiative created a natural synergy with our Jesuit values as we continue to create and strengthen the long-term existence of our students, faculty, staff, and greater community,” said Grant.
Working alongside students, faculty, staff, campus ministry, and expert researchers in the field, the initiative has created a bounty of resources for undergraduate students. More recently, the school has started implementing text messaging services to students to increase communication options for students during COVID and evolve the role of academic advisors beyond strict advising meetings.