5 ways to improve your wellbeing with Yale’s Student Wellness Website

Getting help for stress shouldn’t add to the stress. That’s part of the rationale behind The Wellness Project at Yale University, a group of professionals dedicated to enhancing student wellbeing and encouraging a culture of holistic wellness across the university.

Over the past few years, we heard the call—from students, faculty, and the community—for student wellness services that reflect today’s realities. The Yale College Council, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and the Graduate Student Assembly as well as the Yale Law School Mental Health Alliance released reports on mental health at Yale, full of recommendations to improve campus culture and access to information. We heard the concerns with respect and seriousness. Yale has always emphasized the importance of a holistic education—one that develops the emotional, social, spiritual, and physical aspects of an individual as much as one’s intellectual and professional character.

In response, we built a website that provides easily accessible information

about mental health and clinical care along with the many wellness resources and services at Yale, including peer counseling, spiritual and religious communities, opportunities for exercise, and classes within the New Haven community.

A diverse group of collaborators used their perspectives, experiences, and expertise to produce the site: the Office of the Secretary and Vice President for Student Life with contributions from Mental Health and Counseling at Yale Health, members of the Coalition for Mental Health and Wellbeing at Yale, The Wellness Project committee, the Mental Health and Counseling Advisory Committee, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, the Graduate Student Assembly, and the Yale Law School Mental Health Alliance.

Wondering if there’s anything for you? Here are five ways to use the site that may surprise you:

1.    Learn how to breathe. Master the energizing Bellows Breath or the relaxing 4-7-8 Breath with these links. We’ve chosen a diverse mix of easy-to-use audio and video relaxation and breathing guides, along with many other wellness and self-care tools.

2.    Answer the tough question. “What can I do to help?” It’s a question many family members and friends have when a loved one has mental health concerns. From knowing who to contact in a crisis to learning ways you can be supportive over the long term, start getting answers and ideas here.

3.    Shatter a myth. True or false: “If a person is strong enough, they can solve problems on their own.” False. Just because someone struggles with mental health does not mean that it defines their basic character.  Learn about this myth and other misconceptions about mental health here. Knowing the facts increases your understanding of yourself and others and helps destigmatize the issue, encouraging people to feel more comfortable seeking help.

4.    Take an Online Mental Health Screening. Sometimes, you might feel like something is wrong, but you can’t pinpoint exactly what it is. You might be struggling but aren’t sure if you should contact a health professional. That’s why the wellness site includes a free, anonymous, and confidential mental health screening offered by YaleHealth. Based on your responses to the questions, the screening evaluates your responses and points you in the direction of appropriate services. If what you are feeling might be caused by a mental health issue, the site guides you to a resource that can help.    

5.    Try a new app. We’ve gathered more than 25 apps on meditation, mood, food, exercise, weight loss, sleep, and how to manage your productivity—and many of them are free. Check out Charity Miles, the free app that lets you earn money for selected charities as you walk or bike, MindShift, the anxiety solutions app, or Unstuck, the digital coach that can help you through uncertain or uninspired moments.

Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students’ lives are filled with learning, challenges, and great growth. I encourage you to make use of these wide-ranging resources and to embrace fulfilling opportunities and choices as you chart a lifelong journey toward wellness.

But as the saying goes, it only works if you work it: Please help The Wellness Project and the Student Wellness website grow by sharing your feedback.