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Tag: Wellness

Creating Inclusive Health and Counseling Centers

Your Guide to Best Practices

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of creating inclusive and welcoming health and counseling centers for LGBTQ+ students. Ensuring that all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, feel safe and supported is crucial for their overall well-being and academic success.

Here are some practical steps and best practices to make health and counseling centers more inclusive for LGBTQ+ students.

1. Staff Training and Education:

Provide ongoing training for healthcare providers and counseling staff on LGBTQ+ health concerns and challenges. This includes understanding the specific mental health needs of LGBTQ+ students, as well as using inclusive language and respecting students’ preferred names and pronouns. Staff should be well-versed in cultural competency to create an environment where LGBTQ+ students feel seen and respected.

2. Inclusive Policies and Practices:

Work with campus leadership to develop and implement policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Ensure that these policies are clearly communicated to both staff and students. Incorporate inclusive practices such as providing gender-neutral bathrooms within your clinic and offering a range of options on intake forms to capture a student’s gender identity and preferred name. Make sure this information is prominently displayed in your EHR and scheduling systems so that staff can refer to a student the right way, the first time.

3. Visible Support and Resources:

Display LGBTQ+ affirming materials, such as posters, brochures, and pride flags in health and counseling centers. This visible support can help create a welcoming atmosphere. Additionally, provide resources and referrals to LGBTQ+-friendly healthcare providers and support groups both on-campus and in your local community.

Unique strategies for promoting resources to students can be found here.

4. Confidentiality and Privacy:

Ensure that confidentiality and privacy are prioritized, as many students may be concerned about being outed or facing discrimination. Reassure students that their information will be kept private and that their healthcare needs will be handled with sensitivity and respect.

5. Student Feedback and Involvement:

Engage LGBTQ+ students in the development and evaluation of health and counseling services. Solicit feedback through surveys, focus groups, and advisory committees to ensure that services are meeting their needs and to identify areas for improvement.

6. Comprehensive Coverage:

Advocate for student health insurance plans to include comprehensive coverage for LGBTQ+ healthcare needs. This should encompass routine care, mental health services, and specific needs such as hormone replacement therapy, gender-affirming surgeries, and other gender-affirming treatments. Ensuring that insurance plans do not exclude this type of care is critical for the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ students.

7. Policy Guidelines:

Refer to established guidelines and best practices, such as those provided by the American College Health Association (ACHA). ACHA provides a Trans-Inclusive College Health Programs guide for creating inclusive healthcare environments, for example. This guide provides recommendations on medical records, health informatics, mental health services, and continuing education and training.

8. Equitable Access:

Promote equitable access to healthcare services to ensure that all students can achieve their full academic potential. Addressing chronic or acute physical and mental health needs promptly can decrease the amount of time students lose to health issues and contribute to their overall success.

Real-World Examples and Best Practices

Drawing inspiration from successful initiatives in higher education, we can create more inclusive health and counseling centers.

Here are some examples of how schools across the country are prioritizing LGBTQ+ health and wellness:

  • Rutgers University offers comprehensive care for transgender and gender non-binary students through the Rutgers Center for Transgender Health. This center provides medical counseling, hormone therapy, hormone-level monitoring, and assistance with referrals to external providers such as surgeons and endocrinologists. Additionally, they help students with signing official name-change documents.

    Health services include continuous hormone therapy, laboratory testing, genital and chest reconstruction surgery, psychotherapy, and surgery to change secondary sex characteristics. Rutgers Student Health ensures gender-affirming care for all registered students, regardless of their insurance coverage, including those on the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP).

    Counseling services include individual and group counseling, crisis management, substance abuse assessment and treatment, and psychiatric services. The center is dedicated to improving transgender and non-binary health through evidence-based care, research, and education, aiming to create a welcoming and supportive environment throughout the gender affirmation process.

  • Tufts University offers comprehensive, inclusive health services for LGBTQIA+ students, including specialized trans health care, hormone treatment, and gender-affirming surgery information. Students can self-identify their name, gender identity, and pronouns in records.

    Gender-affirming hormone Treatment (GAHT) and surgeries follow World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) guidelines, with support for medication and ongoing care. Insurance and billing assistance is available, and mental health support is provided throughout the process. The university also offers additional resources for ongoing support and name changes.

  • Ohio State University’s Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) offers extensive mental health support for LGBTQ+ students through one-on-one counseling, drop-in consultations, and specialized workshops and support groups. Several therapists specialize in LGBTQ+ concerns. CCS supports groups for queer undergraduate and graduate students, plus transgender/non-binary students.

    The Gender Affirming Primary Care Clinic offers transition-related care, primary care, STI testing, HIV PrEP, vaccinations, hormone therapy, and referrals for gender-affirming surgery. The clinic emphasizes teaching future medical professionals to provide affirming care to the transgender community.

Key Takeaways

Creating inclusive health and counseling centers for LGBTQ+ students is not just about meeting regulatory requirements; it is about fostering an environment where all students can thrive.

By implementing practical steps such as staff training, inclusive clinic policies, and comprehensive healthcare coverage, institutions can ensure that LGBTQ+ students feel supported and valued. This, in turn, contributes to their academic success and overall well-being.

As we move forward, continuous engagement with the LGBTQ+ community will be essential in refining these practices and addressing emerging needs.

Learn more about how campuses are focusing on LGBTQ+ mental health here. Connect with a member of our team.

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The Impact of Sleep on Academic Performance

Encouraging Healthy Sleep Habits

healthy sleep is important

Sleep is often the first thing students sacrifice when faced with the demands of college life. According to the University of Georgia, college students are only getting an average of 6-6.9 hours of sleep per night. However, the CDC recommends getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

From late-night study sessions to early morning classes, sleep deprivation has become a common issue among students. In this blog, we’ll explore sleep’s critical role in learning and memory, the negative effects of sleep deprivation, and how colleges can promote better sleep hygiene among students.

The Importance of Sleep for Students

Enhances Learning and Memory

Sleep is essential for consolidating memories and processing information. During sleep, the brain reorganizes and integrates new information, which is crucial for learning. Studies have shown that students who get adequate sleep perform better on tests and have better recall of information compared to those who are sleep-deprived.

Boosts Cognitive Function

Adequate sleep enhances cognitive functions such as attention, problem-solving, and decision-making. These skills are vital for academic success, as they enable students to grasp complex concepts, engage in critical thinking, and make informed decisions.

Improves Mood and Mental Health

Sleep has a profound impact on mood and mental health. Students who get enough sleep are less likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, which can hinder academic performance. Good sleep hygiene promotes emotional stability, resilience, and overall well-being.

The Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

Increased Risk of Health Issues

Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to a range of health problems, including weakened immune function, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. For students, this means more sick days and less energy to participate in academic and extracurricular activities.

Decreased Safety

Sleep-deprived students are at a higher risk of accidents and injuries, both on and off campus. For example, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Ensuring students get enough sleep can help keep them safe.

Promoting Better Sleep Hygiene on Campus

Educating Students About Sleep

Colleges can play a significant role in promoting healthy sleep habits by educating students about the importance of sleep. Workshops, seminars, and informational campaigns can help raise awareness about the benefits of good sleep hygiene and provide practical tips for improving sleep quality.

Gain unique tips for promoting campus resources here.

Creating a Sleep-Friendly Environment

The campus environment can significantly impact students’ sleep patterns. Colleges can take steps to create a sleep-friendly environment by:

  • Implementing Quiet Hours: Establishing (and consistently enforcing) quiet hours in dormitories can help minimize noise and create a conducive environment for sleep.
  • Improving Dorm Room Comfort: Providing comfortable mattresses, blackout curtains, and temperature control can enhance sleep quality.
  • Encouraging Regular Sleep Schedules: Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends, can help students regulate their sleep patterns.

Offering Resources and Support

Providing resources and support for students struggling with sleep issues is essential. This can include:

  • Access to Sleep Clinics or Counseling Services: Offering on-campus sleep clinics or counseling services can help students address sleep disorders or other underlying issues affecting their sleep.
  • Stress Management Programs: Programs that teach stress management techniques, such as mindfulness and relaxation exercises, can help students manage stress and improve their sleep quality.

Encouraging Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Promoting overall health and wellness can also contribute to better sleep hygiene. Colleges can encourage students to adopt healthy lifestyle choices by:

  • Promoting Physical Activity: Regular exercise can help regulate sleep patterns and improve sleep quality.
  • Providing Nutritious Food Options: A balanced diet supports overall health and promotes better sleep.
  • Limiting Caffeine and Alcohol: Educating students about the impact of caffeine and alcohol on sleep can encourage healthier consumption habits.

Key Takeaways

The impact of sleep on academic performance is undeniable. By promoting healthy sleep habits, colleges can help students achieve their full academic potential and enhance their overall well-being. Colleges can play a crucial role in fostering good sleep hygiene among students through education, creating a sleep-friendly environment, offering resources and support, and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.

Help your students thrive during their college years. Learn how physical activity can improve student well-being.

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Leveraging Technology for Wellness

Leveraging Technology for Wellness

Using Apps, Online Resources, and Telehealth to Enhance Student Support

Technology is revolutionizing the way we approach health and wellness. For college health and counseling professionals, integrating technology into support services is no longer optional—it’s essential. From wellness apps to telehealth platforms, these tools offer innovative ways to connect with students, provide continuous support, and enhance the overall efficacy of health and counseling services.

The Rise of Wellness Apps

Wellness apps have become a cornerstone in the landscape of digital health. These applications offer various features, from mental health support and meditation to fitness tracking and nutrition guidance. Here’s how wellness apps can be integrated into college health services:

  1. Mental Health Support: Apps like Headspace, Calm, and Moodfit provide students with tools for managing stress, anxiety, and depression. These apps offer guided meditations, mood tracking, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques that can complement in-person or virtual sessions with a counselor.
  2. Physical Fitness and Nutrition: Fitness apps like Nourish and Nike Training Club help students maintain physical health by offering workout plans and nutritional support. Encouraging students to use these apps can foster a holistic approach to wellness.
  3. Personalized Health Plans: By integrating these apps into your health center’s resources, you can offer personalized health plans that students can follow independently, promoting continuous self-care outside of scheduled appointments.

Gain tips for connecting students with key resources here.

Utilizing Online Resources

Online resources are vast and varied, offering a wealth of information and support that can enhance college health services. Here’s how you can leverage them:

  1. Virtual Workshops and Webinars: Hosting or participating in virtual workshops and webinars on topics like stress management, nutrition, and mental health can provide valuable support and education to students, reaching those who may not seek in-person help. These types of events can also be co-hosted with other schools, reaching a wider student audience while limiting resources required of each school’s health and wellness team.
  2. Integrate ePrecribing: ePrescribing allows healthcare providers to send prescriptions directly to pharmacies electronically, reducing errors and enhancing efficiency. This system improves accuracy and convenience for students while supporting sustainability by reducing paper usage. Additionally, ePrescribing enhances patient safety through drug interaction checks and allergy alerts.
  3. Telehealth Appointments: Telehealth has become a game-changer in the realm of health services, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It continues to provide numerous benefits:
    • Accessibility: Telehealth removes barriers to accessing care, such as transportation issues or scheduling conflicts. Students can attend appointments from the comfort of their dorm rooms or another private space on campus, making it easier to seek help.
    • Continuity of Care: Telehealth ensures that students who might travel or move frequently continue to receive consistent care without interruption.
    • Immediate Support: Platforms offering on-demand telehealth services can provide immediate support during crises or urgent health concerns, ensuring timely intervention.

Best Practices for Integration

To effectively integrate technology into your health and counseling services, consider these best practices:

  1. Evaluate and Select: Choose apps and online resources that are evidence-based and have proven efficacy. Collaborate with technology experts to ensure they meet your institution’s privacy and security standards.

You can learn more about protecting students’ data here.

  1. Promote Awareness: Actively promote these resources through campus campaigns, social media, and during sessions with students. The more aware students are of the available tools, the more likely they will use them.
Download the guide: 22 Innovative Ways to Promote Campus Resources.
  1. Feedback and Improvement: Regularly seek student feedback regarding their experiences with these technologies. Use this feedback to improve and adapt your digital health and wellness offerings continuously.

Key Takeaways

Incorporating technology into college health and counseling services is a powerful way to enhance support and improve student wellness. By leveraging wellness apps, online resources, and telehealth, colleges can provide comprehensive, accessible, and effective care. Embracing these modern tools not only meets the current needs of students, but also prepares your institution to navigate the evolving landscape of digital health.

Learn how you can make teletherapy sustainable for your campus here.

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5 Strategies to Promote Resources on Your Campus

How You Can Maximize Resource Visibility

  1. Email Signatures, QR Codes & Flyers
  2. Campus Newsletters
  3. Bus Banners and Mascots
  4. Host Interactive Events
  5. Collaborate With Student Organizations

Need help ensuring your students are aware of the resources available to them? You’ve come to the right place!

A recent survey by Tyton Partners involving over 2,000 college students nationwide revealed a concerning trend: less than half utilized academic advising, and only about 20% sought help from resources like tutoring, financial aid counseling, career advising, or mental health counseling.

This low utilization rate is problematic, as research suggests that neglecting student resources can negatively impact performance, enrollment, and graduation rates.

In this blog, we’ll explore creative ways to promote resources and ensure that every student knows where to turn for help.

Keep an eye out for the chance to download additional resource promotion ideas at the end of this article!

1. Blending Tradition with Innovation: Email Signatures, QR Codes, & Flyers

To effectively promote resources on college campuses, it’s important to employ a combination of traditional methods and innovative strategies. One way you can do this is by incorporating QR codes into campus flyers. QR codes provide an easy way for students to access resources directly from their smartphones.

Based on the 2023 Statista statistics report, around 89 million smartphone users in the United States have utilized QR code scanners, representing a surge of 20 million compared to the previous year. Projections suggest this number will surpass 100 million by the end of 2025.

Some other suggestions include distributing cards with QR codes on orientation tours to engage students early on. Additionally, waterproof stickers placed on outdoor furniture offers a subtle yet effective method to raise awareness among students.

Erin Halligan-Avery, CEO of ConcernCenter shared these tips on our recent webinar. View the replay here.

Additionally, ensure widespread awareness of your resource directory by including links to helpful resources in email signatures and presentations to student leaders, faculty, and staff.

2. Incorporate Resources into Campus Newsletters

To maintain consistent exposure of resources to students, faculty, and staff, consider regular inclusion of helpful resources in newsletters. While newsletters may be overlooked by busy students, featuring resources regularly ensures students will come across them over time.

According to an analysis by Vero, including visuals like images or infographics in emails can increase click-through rates by 42%. By consistently including resource links in newsletters and leveraging engaging content types, you can increase the chances of students, faculty, and staff seeing and accessing the resources they need.

3. Get Creative with Bus Banners and Mascots

Students love their mascot. Leveraging mascots to promote important campus resources during events like sports games can add a fun and engaging element to promotions, capturing students’ attention and encouraging interaction. Placing a QR code to access resources on a sign held by your mascot as students enter the arena or field is one idea. Imagine your resources displayed up on the jumbotron as your mascot hypes up the crowd!

Furthermore, Erin Halligan-Avery, CEO of ConcernCenter, mentioned during our recent webinar that she’s even seen some schools utilize buses to display banners with information and QR codes that point students to relevant support. This type of campaign can significantly enhance the visibility and accessibility of student resources across campus.

4. Host Interactive Events

Another effective way to promote resources on your campus is by hosting interactive events that highlight support services. Consider organizing workshops, seminars, or panel discussions focused on mental health, academic success, career development, or any other relevant topics.

For instance, research from the American Psychological Association suggests that students who participate in workshops focused on mental health resources report a greater understanding of available services and an increased likelihood of utilizing them. These events provide opportunities for students to learn about the resources available to them in a more engaging and interactive setting (and they can invite their friends!).

5. Collaborate with Student Organizations

Collaborating with student organizations can be another effective strategy for promoting resources on your campus. Reach out to various student groups, such as student government, academic clubs, cultural organizations, or wellness clubs, and offer to partner with them on awareness campaigns or events.

For example, you could co-host a mental health awareness week, a resource fair, or a peer support group session. By utilizing the networks and platforms of student organizations, you can reach a wider audience and make the promotion of resources more relatable and accessible to students.

Help your students thrive. Discover tips on how your campus can foster first-year success through wellness.

Key Takeaways

Promoting resources on college campuses requires a well-rounded approach. From traditional methods like flyers and emails, to QR codes for smartphone access, it’s important to test different strategies and see which ones are most effective for your students. Using a multi-pronged approach ensures students have the resources they need for a positive college experience.

Want to explore more creative ideas for promoting campus resources? Check out our brand new resource, “22 Innovative Ways You Can Promote Campus Resources.”

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Connecting Students with Key Resources

Webinar Q&A recap with Erin Halligan-Avery, CEO of ConcernCenter and Darlene Schmitt, Associate Director of Counseling at SUNY Brockport.

Many college students struggle to find the support they need. While the stigma around seeking help is lessening, navigating a maze of resources can be overwhelming. This strains college health and counseling centers, which are often tasked with connecting students to resources available on and off campus.

This blog summarizes the highlights from our most recent webinar featuring Erin Halligan-Avery, CEO of ConcernCenter, and Darlene Schmitt, Associate Director of Counseling at SUNY Brockport.

We dive into how schools can leverage a centralized resource directory (like ConcernCenter) to more seamlessly connect staff, students, faculty, and administrators with vetted resources to support student well-being.

Q. Do you provide information about off-campus resources?

Darlene: Our school does both. We focus on-campus resources and promote some vetted community options for specific needs. We’re expanding community resources in an upcoming summer update.

Erin: I’ve seen schools offer a mix of campus and nearby community resources. Virtual resources are also increasing in popularity for broader support such as apps and videos.

Q. Darlene, can you share an example of a resource that your campus has available on your resource directory?

A: Of course. One resource we offer is a Student Mental Health Fund which grants up to $1,000 for mental health-related financial needs. Students may come across this resource when they enter “money” into our platform. This is a resource that not many students (and even staff and faculty) know about and probably wouldn’t have otherwise found unless they utilized our resource platform.

Q: Darlene, where does your campus place your resource directory on the school website?

A: Our resource platform is integrated across our school’s main landing page, health center site, and departmental websites.

Q: Darlene, how do you promote the tool across Brockport?

A: We started with promoting via a social media campaign, distributing flyers, and other traditional methods. However, in the past year, we’ve been more intentional. We’ve plastered flyers across campus with QR codes, included links in our email signatures, and incorporated it into every presentation we do for student leaders, faculty, and staff. This helps ensure that those who work on our campus have a “one-stop-shop” they can go to if they’re trying to help a student get connected to resources to help them thrive. We also feature the link to the platform in our newsletters, although I know those can be notoriously overlooked by busy students.

Q: Erin, how are you seeing other schools promote the tool? 

A:  Schools promoting their resource directory get creative. I’ve seen schools hand out postcards with a QR code that links to ConcernCenter on admissions tours. I found this to be an incredibly proactive approach to connecting students to resources, as these aren’t even enrolled students yet! I’ve also seen folks add waterproof stickers to outdoor furniture that the students use. One school even had their mascot standing outside with a sign that featured a QR code pointing students to resources, too! Additionally, I’ve even seen buses around campus displaying banners with information and QR codes for accessing platforms like ConcernCenter. It’s super fun to get to be as creative as possible when getting the platform in front of as many people across campus as possible.

Q. What were the top five concerns students searched for on ConcernCenter nationwide?

  1. Food
  2. Housing
  3. Anxiety
  4. Stress
  5. Mental Health

Q: What were the top five searches specific to SUNY Brockport?

  1. Food
  2. Roommate
  3. Accommodations
  4. Anxiety
  5. Clubs

Q: Erin, did you find these results surprising?

A: I rarely encounter any surprise about the top concerns. Whether I’m speaking with administrators or counseling colleagues, the consensus is usually the same – the top concerns, such as food and housing insecurity, are expected. These results aren’t only validating but are also crucial for guiding where to allocate resources and funding across campus.

Q:  It’s interesting how “mental health” is such a broad term but was one of the most frequently searched topics. Erin, what’s your take?

A: Oftentimes, search engines fall short, particularly in mental health-related searches. For example, searching for “mental health” can yield irrelevant results, which can be frustrating. However, utilizing a reverse resource directory allows students to express their concerns in their own words, enabling them to find specific resources efficiently, (i.e. “I hate my roommate, I can’t sleep,” etc.).

Q: Erin, what searches are most popular for different types and sizes of schools?  

Mid-sized public institutions (5,000 to 8,000 students):

  1. Anxiety
  2. Food insecurity
  3. Stress
  4. Career issues
  5. Housing challenges

Small, private institutions (fewer than 5,000 students):

      1. Food insecurity
      2. Housing challenges
      3. Counseling needs
      4. Anxiety
      5. Tutoring

      Q: What days and times during the week do students search the most, and why do you think that is?

      A: Erin: Nationwide, students search most on weekdays at midday. This might suggest challenges in finding support during regular office hours, even when resources are available. 

      Q: Darlene, how have you been using the data from ConcernCenter and what do you plan on doing next?

      A: Erin’s team does a fantastic job of pulling insights for us. This summer, we’re planning to dive deeper into the data. Specifically, we want to explore the top five issues on campus and identify any other student concerns that may have slipped under our radar. For instance, clubs seem to be a significant concern for our students. I’d like to collaborate with Campus Recreation to enhance our outreach efforts and offerings when it comes to student activities. One of our goals is to ultimately enhance students’ sense of belonging, so I think collaborating here will have a big impact.

      Key Takeaways

      The gap between students and the resources they need persists. While the number of resources available on college campuses has increased overall, finding, and navigating options remains difficult.

      Tools like ConcernCenter offer hope with vetted campus, community, and virtual resources. Natural language search personalizes the experience for students and allows them to find more quickly what they’re looking for. However, data analysis and cross-campus collaboration can help institutions of higher education tailor outreach and ensure students get the help they need, whenever they need it.

      Interested in learning more about how your campus health solutions can become more integrated and impactful?  Connect with a member of our team.

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      Developing a Multifaceted Approach to Supporting Students with Eating Disorders

      Approximately 9% of people in the United States are estimated to experience an eating disorder at some point in their life. Given this prevalence, addressing eating disorders among college students requires a multifaceted approach, involving collaboration between various departments within your institution. Let’s explore strategies and initiatives aimed at providing comprehensive assistance to students with eating disorders, recognizing the importance of early identification and establishing clear referral pathways for effective intervention and support.

      Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms in College Settings

      Early identification of eating disorders is crucial for effective intervention and support. Training programs can be implemented to provide staff with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify warning signs and initiate appropriate interventions. These programs should also emphasize the importance of creating a supportive and non-judgmental environment where students feel comfortable seeking help.

      In addition to staff training programs, colleges can establish screening mechanisms to proactively identify students at risk of developing eating disorders. These screenings can be integrated into health assessments or conducted through anonymous surveys to encourage honest responses.

      Implementing a Holistic Support System for Students

      A holistic support system encompasses various components that cater to the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of students with eating disorders. This includes combining the expertise of nutritionists, counselors, and medical professionals who specialize in eating disorders.

      Student support groups focused on eating disorders can also be helpful. These groups foster a sense of community and provide opportunities for peer support. Moreover, they offer a safe space for students to share their experiences, gain insights from each other, and develop coping strategies.

      In addition to individual counseling services, group therapy sessions can be organized to address common challenges faced by students with eating disorders. These sessions can focus on building self-esteem, improving body image, and developing healthy relationships with food.

      Furthermore, incorporating mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation into the support system can help students manage stress and cultivate a positive relationship with their bodies. These practices promote self-awareness and can encourage students to redirect negative thoughts about themselves and their body image.

      Learn more about how you can bring holistic wellness to your college here.

      Creating Clear Referral Pathways

      An essential part of a multifaceted approach is the establishment of clear referral pathways to external resources and treatment facilities. If colleges don’t have staff who specialize in eating disorder treatment, they should ensure they have external resources that they can connect students with. Clear referral pathways facilitate a seamless transition from internal support systems to external treatment and provide students with ongoing support throughout their recovery journey.

      Additionally, colleges can create comprehensive resource guides that outline available external resources, treatment options, and support groups. These guides can be distributed to students, staff, and faculty to increase awareness and facilitate referrals when necessary. Taking these steps can help colleges ensure that students receive timely and appropriate care, ultimately promoting their well-being and academic success.

      Key Takeaways

      Developing a multifaceted approach is crucial for supporting students with eating disorders in educational settings. By employing the strategies mentioned above, colleges can provide comprehensive support for students with eating disorders and contribute to helping them lead happy, healthy lives.

      Empower your college to make a positive impact on students’ well-being. Learn more about leveraging our counseling EHR solution to support your clinic and students.

      students with eating disorder inforgraphic

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      Gymtimidation No More

      A Guide for College Health Leaders to Foster a Fitness-Friendly Environment

      When stress levels are high and time is limited, college students often struggle to prioritize their physical well-being. It’s no secret that fitness plays a crucial role in overall health, but the gym can be an intimidating place for many. College health leaders and other leaders across campus have the power to cultivate an environment that promotes fitness and encourages students to lead healthy lifestyles.

      In this blog, we’ll be covering:

      • Understanding the barriers to fitness
      • Creating a welcoming and inclusive fitness environment
      • Ideas for creating engaging group workouts
      • Building a supportive community

      Understanding the Barriers to Fitness for College Students

      Academic pressures, time constraints, and lack of self-confidence are just a few factors that contribute to students’ hesitancy to embrace fitness. By recognizing and addressing these barriers, we can create an inclusive environment that caters to the diverse needs of our student population.

      1. Academic Pressures

        College life is demanding, with students juggling coursework, assignments, and exams. Time spent in the gym may feel like time taken away from studying. However, exercise can actually enhance academic performance!

        When students engage in physical activity, it stimulates blood flow to the brain, improving cognitive function and memory retention. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins, which can help reduce stress levels and improve overall mood.

        Furthermore, incorporating exercise into study routines can be beneficial. Taking short breaks to engage in physical activity can improve focus and productivity. Whether it’s a quick walk around campus or a few minutes of stretching, these small bursts of exercise can re-energize the mind and help students maintain their concentration throughout the day.

      2. Time Constraints

        Busy schedules often prompt students to prioritize academics and social commitments over physical activity. One way to address this challenge is by introducing flexible workout options.

        Offering shorter, high-intensity workouts can be a time-efficient solution for students who are constantly on the go. These workouts can be completed in a shorter amount of time while still providing the benefits of a longer workout session.

        Additionally, incorporating physical activity into social events can be a fun way to encourage students to engage in fitness. Organizing group hikes, sports tournaments, yoga workshops, or roller-skating parties can create opportunities for students to engage in physical activity while also fostering a sense of community and social connection. Furthermore, this can be an exciting opportunity for first-year students which can help with creating a sense of belonging. 

      3. Lack of Self-Confidence

        Gymtimidation is a common barrier for many college students. The fear of judgment or feeling inexperienced can prevent them from embracing fitness. To combat this, it’s important to create a supportive and inclusive environment.

        One way to do this is by implementing one-on-one introductory sessions. These sessions can be tailored to each student’s needs and provide an opportunity for them to familiarize themselves with the gym equipment and receive guidance from fitness experts.

        In addition to individual sessions, group fitness classes can also be beneficial. Working out in a group setting can help students feel more comfortable and less self-conscious. It provides a sense of camaraderie and encourages students to support and motivate each other.

      Creating a Welcoming and Inclusive Fitness Environment

      Creating a fitness environment that your students want to be a part of goes beyond just addressing the physical aspects of the gym. It involves creating a space where all individuals feel comfortable and accepted, regardless of their background, abilities, or fitness goals.

      One way to achieve this is by offering a diverse range of fitness activities. Not every student enjoys traditional weightlifting or cardio workouts. By expanding offerings to include a wide range of activities such as dance classes, kickboxing, or outdoor adventures, your campus can cater to diverse interests and abilities.

      Along with offering a wide range of fitness activities, it’s essential to focus on inclusive marketing and branding. The language and imagery used to promote fitness on flyers, digital ads, and in newsletters play a significant role in creating an inclusive environment. By applying a lens of inclusivity to all materials displayed in, around, and about the facility, colleges can ensure that all students feel represented and welcome to work on their personal fitness.

      Finally, providing accessible facilities and equipment is key. This includes installing wheelchair ramps, accessible bathrooms, and equipment that can be adjusted to accommodate individuals with disabilities (such as pool access chairs). By making these accommodations, colleges can show their commitment to inclusivity and ensure that every student can benefit from using campus fitness facilities.

      See how the College of Coastal Georgia improved its management of accessibility and accommodation services here.

      Fun and Engaging Group Workout Ideas for College Students

      Group workouts offer an excellent opportunity for college students to bond with peers while getting fit. By organizing exciting and engaging group workout sessions, colleges can make fitness a social and enjoyable experience.

      1. Campus Scavenger Hunts

        Turn fitness into a fun adventure! Organize campus-wide scavenger hunts that require participants to visit designated locations and complete physical challenges. This activity is a non-conventional approach to fitness that combines problem-solving, and teamwork, fostering a sense of community while promoting physical activity.

      2. Themed Workout Classes

        Inject excitement into fitness routines by organizing themed workout classes. Whether it’s an 80s dance-inspired cardio class or a Taylor Swift themed cycling class, incorporating fun themes adds a playful element to working out.

      1. Outdoor Fitness Events

        Bring the fitness experience beyond the confines of indoor spaces by organizing invigorating outdoor fitness events. Embrace the natural beauty of campus surroundings, encouraging students to participate in activities like group runs, hiking expeditions, and outdoor workout sessions that not only promote physical well-being but also leave students feeling more grounded.

      Looking to incorporate wellness more widely across campus? Look no further.

      Building a Supportive Fitness Community in College

      Fitness journeys are often more successful when individuals have a support system. By creating a supportive fitness community, colleges can enhance students’ motivation and ensure long-term engagement.

      1. Buddy Systems

        Encourage students with similar fitness goals and interests to form buddy systems. Having an accountability partner strengthens commitment and increases the likelihood of sticking to a fitness routine.

      2. Fitness Challenges and Rewards

        Create regular fitness challenges that encourage students to push their limits and achieve new goals. Whether it’s a step challenge, a weightlifting competition, or a month-long yoga challenge, offering incentives and rewards for participation and achievement motivates students and fosters a sense of healthy competition.

      1. Social Media Engagement

        Create social media groups or pages dedicated to fitness within the college community. Encourage students to share their fitness routines, and achievements, and provide a space for mutual encouragement.

      Fitness and mental health go hand in hand. Discover how Wofford College boosted student success by elevating mental health support on its campus.

      Key Takeaways

      Promoting wellness on campus is essential for setting students up for a successful college experience. By understanding the barriers to fitness for college students, creating a welcoming and inclusive environment, and providing fun and engaging workout options, we can encourage students to overcome gymtimidation and embrace fitness as an essential component to their overall wellbeing.

      Keep the fitness adventure going! Take it to the next level by exploring ways to enhance support for student-athletes on your campus.

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      Understanding the Impact of Seasonal Depression on College Students

      It’s no secret that college students face a number of mental health challenges, and seasonal depression is one of them. Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that occurs during certain times of the year, often in response to shorter days and less sunlight. It’s not uncommon for college students to experience this kind of depression, so it is important for universities to recognize the potential symptoms and have an action plan in place to help those affected.

      In this blog, we’ll explore:

      • The causes and symptoms of seasonal depression
      • What colleges can do to create a supportive environment
      • How college counseling centers can help

      Exploring the Causes of Seasonal Depression

      It’s estimated that around 5% of adults suffer from SAD, but the exact cause of this condition is not yet fully understood. Still, it’s believed to be due to a combination of factors such as:

      • Lack of sunlight. Winter-onset SAD may be caused by the decrease in the amount of sunlight during fall and winter, impacting the internal clock.
      • Changes in serotonin levels. Reduced sunlight can result in serotonin levels dropping which can impact mood and contribute to SAD.
      • Melatonin disruption. Changing seasons can impact the melatonin balance in our bodies, impacting mood and sleep patterns.

      Overall, it’s essential to understand the potential causes and effects of seasonal depression amongst college students so that individuals can receive the necessary support during these periods. Creating awareness about SAD on college campuses can ensure that students have access to resources available for them to cope with this disorder effectively.

      Seasonal Depression Infographic
      Source: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad-more-than-the-winter-blues

      Recognizing the Symptoms of Seasonal Depression in College Students

      To recognize the symptoms of seasonal depression, it’s important to be aware of both physical and emotional indicators. Low energy levels, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and feelings of irritability are all possible signs of seasonal depression. Environmental and lifestyle factors can also increase one’s risk. For example, decreased sunlight exposure due to shorter days as well as increased stress from academic pressures or social events during the winter months may all play a role in triggering the condition. Understanding these potential triggers is key to helping college students recognize when they may be at risk so that they can seek help accordingly.

      How College Counseling Centers Can Help Students with Seasonal Depression:

      • Therapy and group sessions: College counseling centers are an invaluable resource for students suffering from seasonal depression. Counselors can provide one-on-one or group therapy sessions, helping students develop coping strategies and lifestyle modifications to reduce the severity of their symptoms. They can also offer referrals (on campus or off campus) for further medical treatment if needed.
      • Educational resources: Counseling centers can also provide educational resources to help students understand the causes and effects of seasonal depression. Understanding how their environment, lifestyle choices, and mental health impact their emotions is essential to being able to manage their symptoms effectively. Resources may include books, brochures, posters around campus, videos, or even online seminars that explain seasonal depression in detail and provide information about available treatments and coping techniques.
      • Accessibility: It’s critical for universities to create a supportive environment for any student battling this condition. College counseling centers should be easily accessible so that anyone needing help can utilize them quickly without jumping over hurdles. Additionally, counselors can ensure that all resources are tailored specifically to each student’s individual needs, allowing them to receive the best possible care for their condition.

      By promoting counseling services, universities can provide support for students dealing with seasonal depression and increase awareness of the condition on campus. This could reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage more people to seek help when needed during dark and dreary winter months. With the right support, college students can overcome seasonal depression and make the most of their college experience.

      What College Leaders Can Do to Combat Seasonal Depression on Campus:

      To combat seasonal depression on college campuses, it’s imperative to provide students with the necessary resources and create a supportive environment.

      • Partnering with local organizations: Universities should partner with local organizations in the community, so students have access to outside mental health resources if needed.
      • Ensure faculty is aware: Additionally, professors should be understanding of any absences due to mental health issues and provide accommodations as necessary. College administrators should make sure that faculty members are well-informed about the signs of seasonal depression so they can refer struggling students to counseling services if needed.
      • Wellness activities: Furthermore, universities should organize activities throughout the year that promote mental health, such as offering yoga or mindfulness exercises, offering peer-to-peer support groups, or hosting workshops about how to manage stress.

      By taking these proactive steps towards creating a supportive environment on campus, colleges will be better prepared to help their student body cope with any issues related to seasonal depression.

      Key Takeaways

      Understanding the impact of seasonal depression on college students is a critical step toward addressing the mental health challenges they face. SAD can affect a significant portion of the college population, but with the right strategies in place, universities can provide crucial support. By exploring the causes and symptoms of this disorder, raising awareness on campus, and utilizing the resources available at college counseling centers, students can receive the necessary care to cope effectively with seasonal depression.

      Curious to learn more about Medicat? Experience the benefits of our EHR firsthand. Take an interactive tour of key features and see how they can enhance mental health support on your campus.

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      Why First-Gen College Students Need Extra Support

      Approximately 56% of college students are first-generation. These students are trailblazers, breaking the cycle of limited access to higher education that may have been prevalent in their families for generations. Understanding the unique challenges first-gen college students face is crucial for higher education institutions and policymakers. These students often encounter obstacles that their non-first-gen peers may not face, such as financial pressures, navigating a complex higher education system, and dealing with imposter syndrome. In this blog, we will delve into the data and statistics that shed light on the experiences of first-gen college students.

      Specifically, we’ll explore:

      • Fostering a welcoming environment
      • Supporting emotional well-being
      • Helping bridge achievement gaps
      • Addressing economic barriers to higher education

      Inclusivity and Support: Fostering a Welcoming Environment for First-Gen Students

      Support programs and initiatives play a crucial role in assisting first-generation college students throughout their journey to graduation. Mentorship programs, often led by faculty members who were once first-gen students themselves, provide valuable guidance and emotional support. These mentors can relate to the challenges faced by first-gen students and offer insights into navigating the academic landscape. Their presence as role models can inspire and motivate first-gen students to overcome obstacles and reach their potential. Industry-specific mentorships based on academic programs (such as a Marketing professional mentoring a group of Marketing students) can also go beyond the classroom to guide a student through the internship process, landing a first job, navigating the industry, and more.

      Furthermore, financial aid and scholarship programs can be lifelines for first-gen students, helping to alleviate widespread economic burdens. Financial aid initiatives provide critical assistance in covering tuition costs, textbooks, and living expenses, removing some of the financial stress that can hinder academic performance and student well-being.

      Colleges and universities have recognized the importance of offering comprehensive support services to first-gen students. By creating a network of support, institutions ensure that first-gen students have access to resources that can help them overcome challenges, both inside and outside the classroom. By addressing the emotional and psychological struggles they face, institutions are fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment. Students are not just surviving, but are thriving throughout their college experience, enjoying a sense of belonging and a more positive outlook, ultimately paving the way for a brighter future.

      The First-Gen Struggle: Addressing Emotional Well-Being in College

      Emotional and psychological struggles are common among first-generation college students, with imposter syndrome and low self-esteem being prevalent challenges. Imposter syndrome is the feeling of not belonging or not being as capable as their peers, which can lead to self-doubt and anxiety. The lack of familiarity with the college environment can exacerbate these feelings. Low self-esteem often stems from constant comparison to more academically privileged peers and the fear of falling short of expectations, further impacting a student’s overall mental well-being.

      The stigma surrounding mental health in some communities may deter them from seeking help or acknowledging their struggles, which can lead to a negative cycle of deteriorating mental well-being. For example, data from the National Healthy Minds Study found that “Just 32.8% of first-generation students with symptoms received therapy in the past year, relative to 42.8% among continuing education students.” Acknowledging these emotional and psychological struggles is vital, given their potential to have a substantial impact on academic achievement and individual development.

      Furthermore, college counseling centers can play a pivotal role in nurturing the well-being and academic success of first-generation college students. To offer them tailored support, counseling clinics may want to consider implementing the following strategies:

      • Cultural sensitivity and awareness: College counseling centers should understand the different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds that their students come from. This will help counselors better connect with and provide guidance to these students.
      • Support groups: Counseling centers should offer support groups for first-gen students to connect with each other so that they don’t feel like they’re alone. This can help foster a sense of belonging and create a network of individuals who are likely going through similar challenges. Even doing something simple like a Walk and Talk event can help spark conversations and connections amongst first-gen students.
      • Collaboration with other departments: Collaborate with other departments and offices on campus to ensure that first-gen students have access to a comprehensive support system. This includes working with academic advisors, career services, and financial aid offices.

      The emotional and psychological struggles faced by first-generation college students are complex and can significantly impact their well-being and academic success. Recognizing these challenges is crucial, and college counseling centers, through strategies like cultural sensitivity, support groups, and collaboration with other campus departments, can play a pivotal role in providing the necessary support to help these students overcome their obstacles and thrive in their college journey.

      The Socioeconomic Struggles of First-Gen College Students: Overcoming Economic Barriers

      • Diverse Backgrounds: First-generation college students represent a significant and growing portion of the student population in higher education. Many of these students come from diverse backgrounds, and their experiences are not homogenous. They represent various racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It’s essential to recognize this diversity, as it influences the challenges they face and the types of support they may need.
      • Economic Disparities: Economic disparities often play a significant role in the lives of first-gen college students. About half of these students come from families with , making the pursuit of higher education a formidable challenge. The cost of tuition, textbooks, and living expenses can place a heavy burden on these students and their families. These financial barriers often lead to increased stress and can hinder academic success. Oftentimes, first-gen students need to work while juggling the unfamiliar college scene to make ends meet. A recent study found that “students who work while enrolled in college are about 20% less likely to complete their degrees than similar peers who don’t work.” Recognizing the financial hurdles first-gen students encounter is a crucial step in crafting effective support strategies to ensure that financial concerns do not become insurmountable obstacles to their educational aspirations.

      Inclusivity and Support

      The Path to Equity: Reducing Achievement Gaps among First-Gen College Students

      One of the most concerning aspects of first-gen college students’ experiences is the disparity in graduation rates compared to their non-first-gen peers. The data shows that first-gen students are less likely to graduate within the typical four-year time frame, and they often face a higher risk of  This lower graduation rate is a significant cause for concern, as it not only affects the students’ individual prospects but also perpetuates cycles of limited access to higher education within their families.

      Moreover, a recent study found that “Only 48% of first-gen students are on track to graduate three years after enrollment, compared to about 66% of non-first-gen students.” In addition to graduation rates, there are notable achievement gaps between first-gen and non-first-gen students. This means that first-gen students often struggle to maintain the same level of academic performance as their peers whose parents have completed college. Recognizing these contributing factors is one of the first steps toward addressing them and closing the achievement gaps that persist.

      Key Takeaways

      In conclusion, the data and statistics discussed in this blog shed light on the challenges faced by first-generation college students, highlighting the pressing need for extra support.

      • Approximately 56% of college students are first-generation, representing a significant and growing portion of the student population.
      • Understanding the diverse backgrounds of first-generation students and the financial challenges they face is crucial to tailor support programs effectively.
      • The achievement gap is a significant concern, with first-gen students experiencing lower graduation rates and struggling to maintain academic performance.
      • Emotional and psychological struggles, including imposter syndrome and low self-esteem, are common among first-gen students, affecting their well-being and academic performance.
      • Support programs and initiatives, such as mentorship, financial aid, and campus-wide services, are essential for improving outcomes and fostering inclusivity.
      • Recognizing and addressing the unique challenges faced by first-gen students is not only beneficial for these individuals but also contributes to a more equitable and prosperous future for all.

      The common denominator of first-generation student success is support. Counseling centers play a significant role in fostering a positive experience for first-gen students. See the impact of leveraging an EHR to support your clinic here.

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      Embracing Native American Student Organizations

      After high school, only 17% of Native American students continue their education compared to 60% of the rest of the U.S. population. This emphasizes the importance of Native American student organizations on college campuses across the country. These organizations empower Native American students, foster a sense of belonging, and significantly impact their mental health. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of these student organizations and how they contribute to overall well-being.

      Native American Student Organizations & StatsEmpowering Native American Students Through Student Organizations

      Native American student organizations serve as a vital platform for empowerment, allowing students to express their concerns, embrace their culture, and address unique challenges. These organizations foster a strong sense of community, connecting Native American students with peers who share similar experiences.

      Going beyond mere gatherings, they actively cultivate feelings of belonging and pride among Native American students. Through a diverse range of activities, including cultural events, workshops, and guest speaker series, they aim to reinforce resilience, showcasing the rich diversity of Native American cultures and providing opportunities for cross-cultural learning.

      In promoting cultural awareness and understanding, these organizations play a key role in challenging stereotypes and discrimination faced by Native American students. Through educational workshops and awareness campaigns, they aim to educate the broader student body about the invaluable history and contributions of Native Americans. This not only creates a more inclusive and respectful campus environment but also fosters meaningful connections between Native American students and their non-Native peers.

      These organizations engage in a wide array of activities and collaborations that advance cultural awareness, challenge stereotypes, advocate for policy changes, and nurture leadership development. Collectively, they establish a supportive and inclusive environment where Native American students can thrive academically, socially, and personally.

      The Impact of Student Organizations on Mental Health

      Mental health is a significant concern among college students, and Native American students are not exempt from these challenges;  19% of the population reported having a mental illness within the past year. This emphasizes the importance of Native American student organizations playing a vital role in supporting the mental well-being of these students.

      These organizations often provide a safe space for students to discuss mental health topics openly where they may otherwise feel apprehensive about sharing their thoughts. Through workshops and support groups, they help reduce the stigma associated with seeking help and encourage students to prioritize their mental well-being.

      Moreover, student organizations can collaborate with campus counseling centers and mental health professionals to provide resources tailored to the unique needs of Native American students. By addressing these specific concerns, student organizations ensure that mental health support is accessible and culturally sensitive.

      An Example of Student Organization Excellence

      The impact of student organizations on Native American students extends beyond their individual experiences. These organizations contribute to the overall diversity and inclusivity of the college campus. When Native American students feel supported and valued, they’re more likely to engage in the broader campus community. This increased involvement enriches the cultural fabric of the college, promoting cross-cultural dialogue and understanding.

      Furthermore, the sense of belonging cultivated through student organizations has been shown to positively impact academic success. When students feel connected to their college community, they are more motivated to excel academically, seek out resources, and persist despite challenges. One example of a student organization that fosters a sense of belonging for Native American students is the Native American Student Association (NASA). NASA is dedicated to promoting cultural awareness, providing support, and creating a sense of community for Native American students on campus.

      Through regular meetings, NASA offers a platform for Native American students to share their experiences, discuss important issues, and celebrate their cultural heritage. These gatherings provide a safe space for students to express themselves and also serve as a reminder of their unique identities and the importance of preserving their cultural traditions.

      In addition to regular meetings, NASA organizes various social events throughout the academic year. These events range from cultural festivals and powwows to movie nights and potluck dinners. When participating in these activities, Native American students can connect with their peers, learn about different tribal customs, and showcase their talents.

      Overall, student organizations like NASA play a crucial role in fostering a sense of belonging for Native American students in college. Providing a supportive community, organizing social events, offering mentorship programs, and facilitating connections with faculty and professionals, help empower Native American students to embrace their cultural heritage, thrive academically, and succeed in their future endeavors.

      Other Ways Campuses Can Support Native Students

      Although student organizations can make a significant impact on the college experience for Native students, there are also other strategies that colleges can take to promote a more welcoming and positive environment:

      • Ensure there is Native faculty: Native students often face challenges and feelings of isolation on college campuses. Having Native faculty who understand these challenges can provide the necessary support and guidance, which, in turn, can lead to higher retention rates and academic success.
      • Invest in Native mental health staff: This ensures that the unique mental health needs of Native American students are properly addressed and reduces stigma around seeking help. Investing in diverse mental health staff that’s representative of the campus community and country at large helps to address the ongoing disparities in healthcare access for Native communities, working towards a more equitable and inclusive campus community.
      • Hire a liaison: Having a liaison versed in Native cultures ensures that the college is culturally sensitive and aware of issues affecting Native students. This is essential in creating a supportive and respectful campus environment.
      • Honor the land and history: By honoring Native American land and history on college campuses, institutions send a powerful message of respect, inclusion, and commitment to creating an environment where Native students can thrive academically and personally. It reflects an understanding of the importance of cultural diversity and the role of Indigenous communities in our shared history.

      While student organizations play a crucial role in enhancing the college experience for Native students, it’s equally vital for colleges to adopt a multifaceted approach to support their needs. This includes having Native faculty for guidance and retention, hiring liaisons for cultural sensitivity, and honoring Native land and history to demonstrate commitment to a more inclusive and respectful campus environment. Together, these strategies create an atmosphere where Native students can excel academically, find support, and celebrate their heritage.

      Key Takeaways

      In conclusion, Native American student organizations have a profound impact on college campuses. They empower Native American students, foster a sense of belonging, and support mental health. By providing a platform for students to celebrate their culture, voice their concerns, and connect with peers, these organizations create an inclusive environment where Native American students can thrive both academically and personally. Recognizing the role of student organizations in the success and well-being of Native American students is crucial in creating a more equitable and supportive college experience for all students.

      Need help finding ways to better communicate available resources to your students? See how Medicat can help.

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