Concordia University Wisconsin continues to pursue excellence with the mental health and wellness services it offers students.
Earlier this year, CUW received a nod from The Washington Post for its innovative and proactive practices. After months of gathering information remotely and during an on-campus visit to Mequon, award-winning journalist Laura Pappano featured Concordia in the story, “Pandemic leads colleges to revise, improve mental health efforts,” which also ran in The Hechinger Report.
Now, PNC has awarded CUW a grant that will allow the university to continue some of its programming or expand upon newer services. The grant covers:
- More hours for Intake/Triage coordinators to streamline and prioritize services for students
- The licensing of a Healthy Minds Study survey for distribution to students in order to assess effectiveness of current services
- Supplies for CUW’s SMART Labs to meet the demand of student interest in the already existing rooms
- The first Symposium on Mental Health to be held on CUW’s campus in spring 2023 to share valuable work with other universities.
“Concordia University has always done a tremendous job of individualizing each student’s academic journey; now, we are taking a giant leap forward in personalizing students’ wellness experience,” said Dr. Steve Gerner, dean of students. “Engaging and effective counseling is part of the solution, but only one part. Our menu of options is extensive and necessary for the unique needs of all our students.
“We are so thankful for our partners at PNC, who recognize these mental health needs and value our innovative work in this area. Our forward thinking matches PNC’s mission of great service and providing powerful expertise. Our community is strengthened because of PNC’s generosity.”Dr. Steve Gerner, dean of students
Ongoing mental health support
Here are just a few of the ongoing programs CUW has in place to provide support for students’ mental and emotional wellbeing.
In order to make the most efficient use of Concordia’s resources, the university piloted an Intake/Triage program last fall. Two employees now serve as the first stop for all student mental health queries and requests. These Intake/Triage Coordinators are tasked with helping students to navigate Concordia’s growing slate of wellness offerings. They also assess and prioritize students’ needs in order to allow CUW employees to provide a more efficient or immediate response.
Concordia is the only college campus in Wisconsin to offer stress management and resiliency training labs. The labs are accessible to students 24 hours a day and are meant to teach or reinforce self-care practices that help buffer daily stress, making students less emotionally and physically vulnerable to it. There are two designated SMART Lab rooms on campus – Evelyn’s Place, located next to the Luptak Terrace Room, and Evelyn’s Corner, located in PH129. There are also Evelyn’s Corner stations within each of the residence halls.
Of course, Concordia maintains the baseline care that colleges across the nation fulfill by providing students with access to clinically certified counselors free of charge. Students don’t need to have a clinically diagnosed disorder to utilize the Counseling Center. Students may seek support for a variety of reasons, such as anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, addictions, and more.
The Counseling Center is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (evening hours by appointment).
If you or a friend find yourself in an emergency, call Campus Safety at 262-243-4344.
Last fall, Concordia launched the first no-cost life coach program offered to college students in the state. Coaches include Veterans Outreach Coordinator Kari Metts and Professors Emeritus Tracy Tuffey and Eugene Pitchford.
The goal of the coaching program is to help students make progress in their lives through strategies such as goal setting, accountability, and confronting cognitive distortions.
Concordia is looking for additional faculty and staff to go through the training to become a certified life coach. Training is FREE and will take place Jan. 16. Email Rebecca Hasbani (Rebecca.Hasbani@cuw.edu) if you are interested.
Comfort Dog Ministry
In 2014, Concordia was the first known university in the nation to pilot a program that utilizes a certified comfort dog in a full-time capacity for students’ benefit and beyond. Through the Comfort Dog Program, which is overseen by Counseling Center Director Dave Enters, Concordia’s resident comfort dog, Sage, offers stress reduction, emotional relief, and improved well-being to all those who encounter him on campus.
Concordia’s Comfort Dog Program was honored as a “Model of Excellence” among higher education institutions nationwide. Learn more here.
Thanks to Concordia’s JED membership, students have access to U-Lifeline free of charge. U-Lifeline is a mental health resource designed specifically for college students. The site includes a self-evaluator to screen your own symptoms, as well as emergency resources available on and off campus, articles on wellness habits, and more.
New efforts this year
This year, Concordia added to its faculty and student training/orientation repertoire:
A group of close to 100 CUW student-leaders and employees participated in an all-day, pre-term training at the beginning of this academic year. The training was led by Jen Marr, founder of Inspiring Comfort, and was designed to teach them how to provide comfort and care to peers in need of emotional support.
Earlier this year, Concordia partnered with the QPR Institute to offer suicide or crisis intervention training for its faculty and staff. The goal was to help employees recognize a student who is at risk for suicide, know how best to intervene, and learn when to refer them to the appropriate resources.
Another QPR Training course will be offered Nov. 11 from noon to 1:30 p.m. or 1:30-3 p.m. For more information, email StudentWellness@cuw.edu.
Mental Health and Wellness Fair
An outcome of its JED membership, Concordia hosted a Mental Health & Wellness Fair that was attended by several dozen students. The fair offered information, access to resources, and opportunity to win health-focused prizes.
Falcon Peer Support Network
Launched this year, the Falcon Peer Support Network is a student-run group designed to promote resiliency and to provide peer-to-peer support. There are six student-directors, six student-leaders, and 42 participants who have shown interest already. The group hosts Kickback Fridays, weekly group sessions, and other community-building events. Contact student Taylor.Vanbrocklin@cuw.edu if you are a student interested in getting involved.
If you are struggling in any way whatsoever, there is someone or something that can help. Explore resources by clicking on the link below.