Sage and ZoeySage and Zoey

Here at Concordia, faculty and staff pledge to support students in mind, body, and spirit. They accomplish all three in a variety of ways, but today, in recognition of World Mental Health Day, I wanted to focus on the exceptional ways CUW supports students' mental health.

Concordians aren’t immune to the national statistics among college students nationwide. An article published on “What to Become” aggregated several recent studies demonstrating the growing concern:

  • 27% of college students have been diagnosed with depression
  • 57.7% of students have felt “overwhelming anxiety” in the past year
  • 39% of all students in the US report dealing with some kind of mental illness
  • 64% of students drop out of college because of mental health problems
  • Only 9% of college students in the United States decide to seek professional help about their mental health issues

With the rise in awareness surrounding these issues, our campus has adapted to better care for students and provide us with resources to ensure we feel healthy and loved.

Of course, Concordia maintains the baseline care that colleges across the nation fulfill. If you are ever struggling, you can reach out to CUW’s Counseling Center to see a counselor and receive in-person (or virtual, if you choose) support.

In addition, Concordia has gone above and beyond to find ways to offer preventative care, embed accessible resources, and assess ways to do better. Here are five unique ways CUW is working to support students’ social, emotional, and psychological health.

1. 24/7 support in Evelyn’s Place

Concordia is the only college in the state to offer a Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) Lab. Named Evelyn’s Place, after beloved longtime Concordia employee Evelyn Hutchins, the SMART Lab is designed to provide high-quality stress management services for undergraduate students. The SMART Lab opened almost a year ago. After an initial orientation, students can receive keycard access that allows them to enter it 24/7.

Read the full story here.

2. Embedded coach to care for athletes

Jeremy Schumacher is the assistant women’s volleyball coach at Concordia University Wisconsin. He is also a licensed marriage and family therapist with years of experience in Christian counseling, a former NCAA Division I athlete, and the son of Lutheran educators. This triad of experiences makes him uniquely qualified to be named the first mental wellness coach in Falcon history, in Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference history, and, perhaps, even in NCAA Division III (D-III) athletics history.

Read the full story here.

3. Healthy minds produce healthy workers

Faculty and staff from nursing, pharmacy, PA, and athletics have come together to help health care majors apply a little preventative care on themselves.

A total of 100 CUW students are taking part in an eight-week program this semester where, each week, they participate in 30 minutes of reflective discussion, followed by one hour of mindful movement. The discussions focus on lessons shared through The Healthy Minds Program App. The topics include concepts like awareness, connection, insight, and purpose.

Read the full story here.

4. Assessing and improving current resources

This fall, Concordia began a four-year journey as a JED Campus, a nationwide initiative of The Jed Foundation designed to help schools evaluate and strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems to ensure that schools have the strongest possible safety nets in place.

Concordia is one of six institutions of higher education in Wisconsin to become a JED Campus.

Read more here.

5. Comfort from furry friends

Concordia was the first college in the nation to employ such a highly integrated Comfort Dog program on campus. In fact, the university won an award for the effectiveness of its program. CUW purchased Zoey in 2014 and Sage in 2018. Earlier this month, the university launched a fundraising effort as it intends to purchase a third dog for its growing Comfort Dog Ministry. The dogs serve as a calming emotional presence and stress relief for students on campus and beyond.

In addition, Sage assists with the state’s only Animal-Assisted Therapy Certificate, while the new dog will serve as a resource for the soon-to-be-launched Compassion Care Certificate.

Read the full story here.

— Madelyne Arrigoni is a senior studying English, Mass Communications, and Photography. She plans to graduate in 2022.

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