When I signed the Okanagan Charter this past October, our University took a significant step forward in our journey to embrace the lens of wellness in all that we do. From the decisions we make about our policies, buildings, programs and initiatives, wellness – particularly mental health wellness – will be a key factor in how we make the choices that will shape our campus.
I was excited to see the recent launch of the Wellness Collaborative which the result of the signing of the Okanagan Charter and the signing of the Healthy Workplace Statement. The Wellness Collaborative takes the commitment found in these two documents and turns it into action by bringing our community together to share ideas, perspectives and experiences on an ongoing basis.
Strength of our community
Mental health and wellness are a priority for our institution. Our students, faculty and staff deserve the support of our entire community in helping them achieve their goals while at Waterloo. Yet there is no single solution that will solve the challenges that mental health present to our community. To make an impact we need to leverage the experiences of our entire community to find the areas we can continue to improve and set the goals we need to meet them. This is the power of the Wellness Collaborative.
The President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) took a similar approach when developing its 2018 report with 36 important recommendations. The community came together within the PAC-SMH with representatives from across the university, dedicated to exploring gaps and recommending ways to improve them. The Wellness Collaborative ensures this process of reflection and action never stops and it is only possible because of the passion and input from our community members and the ongoing leadership of Campus Wellness.
Hub of wellness best practice
The Wellness Collaborative also offers a unique sharing experience for our University as we work with other post-secondary institutions and external stakeholders, such as public health and community counseling services, to share and develop a wide-range mental health and wellness best practices. We have a great deal to learn from within, but also from the outside. There is so much to learn from and teach universities facing similar mental health challenges. Know that Waterloo and the Committee on Student Mental Health are regularly approached by other institutions about how we are undergoing our mental health and wellness improvement process. While this is a long journey to transform, we are making progress.
The goal of the Wellness Collaborative is to embed health across the administration, operations and academic mandates – taking a holistic approach to wellness at Waterloo. It is exciting to see the Collaborative already come together and share so much. The process of engagement and action is only just beginning.
Finding areas to improve, providing actionable solutions and ending the stigma of mental health takes a community and we can only do that together. Stay connected, stay involved and let’s move forward with an eye on wellness in everything we do and every decision we make on our campus.