For students on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus campus, finding a work-life balance can prove tricky. Between tackling challenging classes and toiling away in the lab, who has time to go to a yoga class, not to mention afford one?

A new student group aims to ease this burden by improving and promoting well-being across campus.

The Office of Student Health Promotion replaced the Office of Student Health Insurance in March 2017, armed with a broader mission of creating a healthy campus culture. However, one key component was missing: student involvement. In response, the Student Health Promotion Committee was formed this past fall.

Finding student voices

“We needed to hear from the people we were serving,” said Jill Collins, RD, Student Health Promotion manager at CU Anschutz. “So, we decided to get a group of motivated students together to brainstorm ideas. We have a member from just about every school and college.”

The group, which is 40-members strong, meets monthly during fall and spring semesters. Members share ideas and create initiatives focused on making a healthy lifestyle accessible for the campus community, whether it’s providing free lunchtime group fitness classes or sponsoring a stress-reduction workshop.

The new Student Health Promotion Committee hopes to bring healthy options to CU Anschutz.

“We’re a campus dedicated to health and medical sciences,” said Kelsey Robinson, a first-year MPH candidate in the Colorado School of Public Health and communications chair of the new group. “We need to take the time to focus on ourselves. This group is a step in the right direction for connecting students to healthy lifestyles on campus.”

Being part of the larger office offers the student committee a centralized location for promoting health-related events on campus, Robinson said. “We are networking with other health groups on campus, and would love to promote any other free, health-related events on campus,” she said, such as peer support groups and charity 5Ks.

Setting data-driven goals

To focus its mission, the group used data collected from the National College Health Assessment (NCHA), a national survey tool created and used by the American College Health Association, to collect precise, current data about students.

HOW TO JOIN

CU Anschutz students interested in joining the Student Health Promotion Committee for the 2018-2019 school year should contact Jill Collins at [email protected].

“We wanted to make sure we provided services and initiatives that students wanted and needed,” Collins said. “The survey overwhelmingly showed that we needed to focus on improving nutrition, mental health and fitness.” Three corresponding committees were formed, each with its own short- and long-term goals. For instance:

  • The nutrition branch set a goal of providing healthy alternatives in the vending machines on campus.
  • The mental health branch made a goal of providing more opportunities for students to receive mental health support and skill development, such as “lunch-and-learn” student-run discussion panels featuring health professionals.
  • And the physical activity branch aims to provide free fitness classes in public spaces on campus. The classes would be drop-in and open to any students on campus looking to get their blood pumping.

“Look for events happening this semester,” Robinson said, adding that news and activities will be promoted on its Instagram page (@anschutz_shpc), its website, and through a weekly feature of the Division of Student Affairs’ “Campus Happenings” emails.  “We’re moving quickly and will be implementing changes on this campus before you know it.”