A group of 10 CUW faculty & staff got certified this summer to make the Inspiring Comfort “Showing Up” comfort & connection program readily accessible for all CUW students, faculty, and staff. 

Mental health concerns and social disconnect are increasingly prevalent among young adults today. Given the “loneliness epidemic” among college students, a dedicated group of CUW faculty and staff want to make a difference in their students’ lives. That is why this summer, 10 CUW faculty and staff volunteered their time to become certified trainers with Inspiring Comfort. 

Inspiring Comfort is a social good company that establishes effective human care and comfort as teachable skills. CUW has already hosted two pilot programs with Inspiring Comfort that taught 400 students how to “Show Up” for their peers when they are struggling with mental or emotional health. Given the success of the programs, psychology professor, Holly Griskell Ph.D, and her colleagues are making Inspiring Comfort’s “Showing Up” programming a permanent part of campus starting this academic year.  

CUW Staff Committed to “Showing Up” 

CUW staff certified in Inspiring Comfort have big plans to use “Showing Up” programs on campus this academic year. 

Beckie Kruse, Director of Residence Life, will be bringing the Showing Up programming to students in residence halls through training Resident Assistants and Faith Associates in the skills of comfort and connection. Beckie shares, “In Residence Life, one of our greatest responsibilities is to help students feel a sense of belonging. The specific, practical action steps from Inspiring Comfort are designed to help someone feel like they are not alone.” 

Beckie emphasizes that these care and connection skills are more critical now than ever: “Our Gen Z students have not had the same exposure to in-person experiences as generations before. They have not had the practice reading body language when their primary form of communication developed through messaging applications. They are hungry to learn the skill of listening with their eyes.  And this compassionate generation needs a place to focus their energy; Inspiring Comfort gives them that.” 

Rebecca Hasbani, Intake & Triage Coordinator in Student Wellness, has also been instrumental in bringing new mental health resources to CUW. Rebecca agrees that Inspiring Comfort’s “Showing Up” programming is fit for CUW’s mission. 

“Our Christ-centered mission to equip students to serve the church in the world is demonstrated by example when we show up and get through the Awkward Zone to truly connect with students through showing care. A person may underestimate the value of showing care when someone is struggling and think that kindness may go unnoticed or that it may be ‘awkward’.” 

Rebecca Hasbani, Intake & Triage Coordinator, Student Wellness

She shares that Inspiring Comfort’s previous programming on campus has already been very successful in bridging the gap between feeling empathy and knowing how to act on those feelings: “Showing care is so important but it can be hard to know how to show support when a person is going through a hard time.  Students have reported that their relationships improved after going through a “Showing Up” workshop- better communication with faculty, stronger friendships, and feeling more connected and less lonely on campus. These are all big wins from the perspective of Student Wellness!  I highly recommend this program– it is for everyone!” 

Teaching Faculty to “Show Up” 

It is not enough that only CUW students and staff know how show comfort and care. Faculty also play a critical role in supporting students’ wellness. In fact, according to a survey of 300 CUW students, the #1 most important thing for them to feel cared for on campus is professors who care. In fact, students rate “professors who care” as being even more important to them than “a friend who cares” and “access to mental health counselors”. This data demonstrates that teaching faculty how to “show up” for their students is essential. 

To ensure that CUW professors learn the critical skills of comfort and connection, Jen Marr, the CEO and Founder of Inspiring Comfort, will be bringing her “Showing Up” program to Faculty Summit on August 15th. This program will give all faculty an opportunity to learn how to provide effective Christian care and comfort to their students. Following Faculty Summit, CUW professors will have additional opportunities to get involved with “Showing Up” by participating in book groups, consulting with a Certified Inspiring Comfort Trainer, and taking part in CUW’s Mental Health Awareness & Suicide Prevention Week (September 18-21, 2023).  

Current CUW Certified Inspiring Comfort Trainers include: Rick Aamondt (Campus Safety), Beth Buckley (Pharmacy), Holly Griskell (Psychology), Rebecca Hasbani (Student Wellness, Intake & Triage), Kara Janowski (New Student Programs), Brenda Jobe (Nursing), Beckie Kruse (Residence Life), Natalie Ross (Nursing), Vittoria Sipone (Psychology), and Bobbie Vergo (Occupational Therapy). 

Want in?

For more information about Inspiring Comfort at CUW, email Dr. Holly Griskell at Holly.Griskell@cuw.edu.

For more information about mental health services at Concordia University visit the Student Wellness pages for our Mequon and Ann Arbor campuses.

—Dr. Holly Griskell PH.D is a assistant professor of psychology at Concordia University Wisconsin.