Even before the pandemic hit and millions of students were sent home to learn, health and wellness were top of mind for many students. From navigating sleep schedules and social dynamics to concerns about mental health and anxiety, there are a variety of factors that impact health and wellness on college campuses. One challenge that accompanied a shift to online learning is that students are not able to take advantage of live, in-person activities to help manage health and wellness.

That doesn’t have to mean, though, that universities can’t continue to offer health and wellness support even in remote settings. Health and wellness programs on college campuses can readily be adapted to remote or hybrid learning. Campuses are getting increasingly creative during the pandemic to connect with students remotely in a variety of ways—and health and wellness program offerings are no exception.

How Schools are Addressing College Student Health and Wellness Needs Remotely

At Binghamton University, for instance, where about 2000 students each semester take courses through the school’s Health and Wellness studies (HWS) division, instructors have had to think about ways they could translate their offerings to an online environment. John Fletcher who teaches a course for first-year students called “Healthy College Living” is one example; it’s a health and wellness course that’s now being offered online. 

The University of South Carolina has a page on its website devoted to remote health and wellness resources with offerings ranging from eating well and stress management to sexual health and bystander intervention.

At the University of South Florida, virtual health education offerings also are promoted through a website that sets the stage right up front for students to focus on health and wellness: “We know the importance of maintaining your health and wellness during these unprecedented times,” they say, encouraging students to take advantage of their offerings and vowing to add additional programs and services to help students stay well.

Support Student's Mental Health & Well-Being

EVERFI designs courses that equip students with essential skills and information to better navigate the stressors and emotional challenges associated with college life.

Best Practices for Adapting Campus Health and Wellness Programs to Virtual Environment

Clearly, health and wellness programs on college campuses can be adapted to remote or hybrid learning. Many educational institutions are doing just that. But what best practices can schools follow to boost the odds that students will take full advantage of these offerings and that schools’ efforts will help them stay well?

  • Understand the health and wellness issues that are most important, and most valued by, your students. This can be done through simple polls or more detailed assessments. Every campus community will have different needs. Taking steps to understand what these needs may be for your campus can help you ensure that you’re investing time and money into developing and offering programs that students will value.
  • Keep the communication flowing. Don’t assume that students will automatically know that campus health and wellness programs or offerings are being provided in a virtual environment. Tell them—not just once, but on an ongoing basis. Share details about specific offerings on your website, via social channels, and in other communication forums that students frequent. Announce new programs that are being made available. Share feedback from those who have participated in these online events. 
  • Seek feedback from program participants. Most educational institutions are committed to continuous improvement. One key element of continually improving virtual health education is seeking input from those involved with offerings to discover what they like and what ideas they may have for improvements or new offerings.
  • Track participation to identify trends and better understand how health and wellness offerings are being accessed. Compare different formats in terms of participation (e.g. synchronous vs. asynchronous) and track the types of resources students are more apt to engage with.

Health and wellness programs on college campuses will continue to be vital for college students’ well being. As students continue to live and learn remotely, the ability to easily access remote health and wellness offerings can provide much-needed opportunities for them to prioritize their well-being.

Online Mental Health & Well-Being Resources for College Students

Mental Well-being for Students equips undergraduates with essential skills and information to navigate the stressors and emotional challenges associated with college life. The 45-minute online course helps learners practice self-care strategies, recognize when they or their peers are in distress, and take action to find additional support.