The Division of Student Engagement and Well-Being has announced the opening of the Wellness Empowerment Center and the Center for Mental Health Care and Resources. Based on continued assessment of Georgia Tech’s student support programs, student feedback from the past year, and in alignment with the Cultivate Well-Being Action and Transformation Roadmap for students, these new centers will help improve and expand student wellness programming and mental health support for Yellow Jackets.
When Luoluo Hong started at Georgia Tech in 2021 as the inaugural vice president for Student Engagement and Well-Being, efforts were well underway to augment student mental healthcare services.
“Pieces of the framework for mental health and emotional wellness support had been established in many ways. Georgia Tech’s Mental Health Task Force and the Institute’s A Path Forward – Together initiative addressed many of the needs and challenges of our campus community,” Hong said. “We now need to take the next step and adopt a holistic, more proactive approach to all eight dimensions of wellness in order to address the needs of our students today and into the future.”
Formerly known as Health Initiatives, the WE Center aims to educate, encourage, and equip students to prioritize their own health and wellness, as well as become active participants in healthy lifestyle choices. It will provide research-based programs and services that advocate for holistic wellness, with a special emphasis on addressing the unique needs of students with marginalized identities.
Using a comprehensive approach, the WE Center will focus its efforts on the eight dimensions of wellness: environmental, emotional, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual.
“We are expanding our efforts to ensure we are prioritizing prevention and focusing on the whole person and not only certain dimensions, as they all work together and are interdependent. It’s important for undergraduate and graduate students to have the resources and skills to be proactive instead of reactive,” said Joi Alexander, director of the Wellness Empowerment Center, which will engage and empower the Georgia Tech community to pursue optimal health and wellness and maximize their potential where they live, learn, work, and play.
The second center to launch this month, the Center for Mental Health Care and Resources, reorganizes the Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE) and the Counseling Center into one unit. It will proactively promote mental health and advance a culture of self-care and of shared community responsibility around crisis response and case management. And it will include a dotted reporting line from Stamps Psychiatry to ensure that student mental healthcare is purposefully coordinated and integrated. With this alignment, students will have greater and quicker access to more case managers, decreased wait times, and increased critical care through referrals and interventions. Students will continue to visit CARE as their primary point of access to campus mental health services.
“What we learned from student feedback and from the pandemic is that we need to focus on a proactive approach to mental health and wellness,” said John M. Stein, associate vice president for Student Engagement and Well-Being and Brandt-Fritz Dean of Students Chair. “Counseling and mental health support programs are still very important and will continue to be supported, but even more important is the preventive approach to wellness that these new centers highlight.”
The launch of these two new centers complements the dedication to campus culture change and improved well-being for our entire campus community that will be the new focus of the Division of Student Engagement and Well-Being and the Cultivate Well-Being Action and Transformation Roadmap.