Hammocks on the Quad will beckon UC Davis students to relax; hydration stations will offer a healthy beverage alternative (water!); and peer health advocates will work with students from underserved communities, to help the students make the most of their health care.
Student Affairs is doing all this and more to help students make healthy choices and access the health care they need. The work builds on the university’s ongoing efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage students to feel comfortable seeking mental health services.
“We are taking a holistic approach to wellness that provides students with the health education and resources they need and promotes emotional well-being, too,” said Michelle Famula, a physician who serves as executive director of the Student Health and Counseling Services at UC Davis.
The California Endowment has provided a one-year, $50,000 grant for the hammocks and hydration stations and more for this latest health push at UC Davis — in what the endowment describes as a pilot project that could lead to similar efforts on other college campuses.
The project falls under the endowment’s banner of "Health Happens Here," which supports community-driven change for health improvements beyond doctors’ offices to where people work, live and play.
Health Happens Here at UC Davis seeks to build a community of wellness and promote a healthy learning environment. By offering visible public resources, the project is designed to support student efforts to make their healthy choice, their obvious choice.
UC Davis will:
- Put about a dozen free-standing hammocks on the Quad this spring to encourage members of the campus community to rest and de-stress.
- Install over the summer hydration stations for filling reusable bottles with filtered water.
- Train and deploy in the fall a team of students already active in serving underrepresented communities to educate their peers about how to be advocates for their own health and use new health insurance access.
- Conduct other outreach and surveys for health promotion.
In a first step, the second annual 5K Stride for Aggie Pride, which drew some 3,000 participants on May 18, adopted the Health Happens Here branding. The event promotes a healthy lifestyle and raises funds for student scholarships.
Famula and Lora Jo Bossio, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs, will co-chair an implementation committee involving students. They said students championed the idea to put hammocks on the Quad and will be key to building awareness among their peers.
Mental health initiative
The Health Happens Here project dovetails with UC Davis’ Student Mental Health Initiative, supported by a $617,000 grant from the California Mental Health Services Authority and the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63). As part of that initiative, UC Davis recently launched:
- Just in Case, a mobile-friendly website that helps students assess their own feelings and behaviors, provides tools for how to help a friend in need and guides students to campus and community resources; and
- Each Aggie Matters, a web-based initiative with personal stories to help students feel comfortable talking about mental health and seeking help.