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Center for Student Wellness Cares for the 'Whole' Student


In partnership with the CUMC Student Health Service, the Center for Student Wellness has expanded its counseling and wellness programs to include students from all schools and programs at CUMC. Formerly, the center provided services only to P&S students.

"The relationship between the Center for Student Wellness and the Student Health Service has allowed enhanced outreach and more emphasis on health promotion," says Polly Wheat, M.D., director of the Student Health Service.

The joint health promotion program, called "Wellness Works!" offers both individual and group counseling on topics such as smoking cessation and nutrition in direct collaboration with Student Health Service clinicians.

All of the center's programs and services are evidence-based. Bill Kernan, director of the Center for Student Wellness and assistant director Beth Sherman conduct ongoing research to design programs to meet student needs. In one survey, they learned that the greatest impediments to student success are stress, relationship difficulties, depression and anxiety, concerns about others, sleep difficulties and even illnesses such as cold and flu. The center's programs emphasize these issues.

Mr. Kernan says the number of students who walk into the center seeking counseling has grown tremendously, as has the number participating in the center's workshops. The "StressBusters" program, for example, which trains students to administer massages to fellow students during study breaks, has proved especially popular.

The Center for Student Wellness programs are based on the "individual model of health promotion," which takes a holistic view of student health, offering help with a wide range of problems from study skills to diet and fitness. This personalized model –unique among university wellness programs – has been so successful that Mr. Kernan plans to present a paper about the work at the annual meeting of the American College Health Association in June 2006.

"We hope this model will become a standard for students in graduate and professional schools everywhere," he says.

The Center for Student Wellness is located in Suite 107 in Bard Hall, and can be contacted via email
at studentwellness@columbia.edu or at 212-304-5564/5560. For a listing of weekly events, students may call 212-304-5560. For additional information, visit the center's Web site at http://www.cumc. columbia.edu/students/wellness/.

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