UM Promotes Importance of Student Wellness by Recognizing 17 New Advocates

September 03, 2019

UM News Service

MISSOULA – Curry Health Center Wellness at the University of Montana celebrates the importance of student wellness with the addition of 17 new Student Wellness Advocates, bringing the campus total to 119.

Student Wellness Advocates are a network of UM faculty and staff recognized by students as being supportive of student success and well-being. The program is designed to identify and celebrate UM employees who help students thrive personally and academically. Students Wellness Advocates are nominated by students, presented with a certificate of recognition and provided with a “Student Wellness Advocate” sign they can display.  

“We know that student well-being is at the heart of having a successful and positive college experience,” said Vice Provost for Student Success Sarah Swager. “As the University of Montana continues to grow and evolve we want to celebrate the faculty and staff who continue to make UM a special place for our student body to thrive.”

The Student Wellness Advocate program began in 2017 under the leadership of Julee Stearns, health promotion specialist at Curry Health Center Wellness. Inspired by research and programs at Simon Fraser University in Canada, Stearns launched the UM program to recognize individuals on campus who positively impact student well-being. Students can nominate faculty or staff on campus at any time.

 “By talking to UM students, we know that what happens in classrooms and across the campus environment can really impact their ability to rise to the challenge of college,” Stearns said. “When students have someone on campus they can turn to when they are stressed or overwhelmed, it makes a huge difference.”

Curry Health Center Wellness, in collaboration with Swager, will host a celebration of faculty and staff nominated as Student Wellness Advocates from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, in the Dell Brown Room of Turner Hall. Advocates also will hear from President Seth Bodnar and Provost Jon Harbor about the importance of supporting health and well-being on campus.

Stearns and the wellness department also have created a faculty toolkit with resources to help support instructors in the classroom. The toolkit was created in response to feedback from students and information collected in the National College Health Assessment survey. Based on work by Simon Fraser University, the toolkit resources are proven to positively impact the student experience and increase retention and success of students.

“UM data tells us that stress and anxiety are the top two reasons students struggle academically,” said Stearns. “When students have a supportive classroom environment and are treated with compassion across campus, it goes a long way in helping them overcome challenges in order to thrive both personally and academically. That is worth celebrating.”

The toolkit is available online at http://www.umt.edu/toolkit. To learn more about the Student Wellness Advocate program and Campus Wellness Coalition and see a list of Student Wellness Advocates, visit http://www.umt.edu/swa.

For more information about Student Wellness Advocates, the faculty toolkit or the celebration event, call Stearns at 406-243-5336 or email julee.stearns@umontana.edu.

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Note: Media are invited to attend the private celebration event.

Contact: Julee Stearns, health promotion specialist, UM Curry Health Center Wellness, 406-243-5336, julee.stearns@umontana.edu.