SHS executive director candidate presents integrative vision

Renée Coleman Mitchell, a candidate to be the next executive director of UConn's Student Health Services, speaks during her presentation in the UConn Student Union Theater in Storrs, Connecticut on Thursday, April 7, 2016. (Rebecca Newman/The Daily Campus)

Executive Director of Student Health Services candidate Renée Coleman Mitchell gave a presentation on her vision for a holistic and integrated student health model on Thursday. Mitchell is one of three other candidates visiting campus over the next couple weeks, interviewing and presenting for the executive director position.

“My mission, should I be blessed to be the executive director of UConn Student Health Services would be to transform our current UConn Student Health Services to integrate a holistic health system with all of you a part of that process and journey,” Mitchell said.

The key is to have all the services under one roof, Mitchell said. As of right now, the Infirmary, UConn Wellness and Prevention and Counseling and Mental Health Services are located in different buildings across campus.

“Facility integration, one physical location to house the Student Health Services, is a huge component for true public health,” Mitchell said.

In her presentation Mitchell provided true student examples in which physical illnesses manifested from mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. She said an integrated facility would be a more effective way of treating students needing multiple health services.

“When it comes to wellness and prevention, often times it can be swallowed up within SHS because it’s a very direct service. How would you prevent wellness and prevention from being swallowed up going back under SHS?” Joleen Nevers, an associate director and health education coordinator asked.

Mitchell said that with her public health background, wellness and prevention is a huge component that she sees rising in visibility with the integration.

“The goal would be that each and every time that we look and have a review of what we are working with and what we are dealing with with our students, how can we take that information and program it into wellness and then prevention,” Mitchell said.

There is a new building due to open in 2021 that will house all of Student Health Services.

Mitchell’s vision for this new facility includes one main entrance for students. A single entrance will prevent students from not seeking help from certain health services because of any possible stigmas still attached to them, Mitchell said.

Mitchell also mentioned an interactive waiting area with scales and BP monitors, kiosks and information bars.

“It is also a location that people can hang out because it’s about health and it’s about well-being,” Mitchell said.

Fleurette King, director of the Rainbow Center, asked what Mitchell wants people to experience or feel as they walk into this new facility.

“The environment and décor is one of wellness, and health and calmness. This facility would be a compliment to the Student Union that currently exists now. There are a lot of students on this campus so I can see students being comfortable even to just hang out in this facility because of the environment that is has,” Mitchell said.

Other programs Mitchell plans to see brought to SHS include things such as monthly health and counseling happy hour, student health 101 programs, educational workshops, online Q and A’s, the use of the theatre and art students for role play in educational scenarios such as campus violence and an annual health symposium with a theme decided on by the student body.

“The mission for UConn students is to provide integrated holistic health and wellbeing; to feed our mind, our body, and our spirit and sometimes our soul.

The vision is to produce a healthy student who is a successful, productive student who ultimately is alum, and who ultimately is a productive member of society to reflect the school,” Mitchell said in her closing remarks.

The last candidate presentation by Suzanne Onorato will take place Tuesday April 12 in the Konover Auditorium.