Feel Good Friday: Student Health and Wellness challenge aims to decrease student stress 

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Participants in the challenge have the opportunity to win up to $2,250 by participating in presentations about their original ideas for how resources can help improve student’s mental health on campus.  File photo from the Daily Campus

Participants in the challenge have the opportunity to win up to $2,250 by participating in presentations about their original ideas for how resources can help improve student’s mental health on campus. File photo from the Daily Campus

The University of Connecticut’s Student Health and Wellness (SHaW) department has challenged students to increase healthy habits and decrease stress on campus with their Innovate Wellness Challenge. 

Participants in the challenge have the opportunity to win up to $2,250 by participating in presentations about their original ideas for how resources can help improve student’s mental health on campus. The program is open to all undergraduate students, and additional benefits to participating include building your skills and resumé, working with students, staff and faculty, and having the chance to implement your solutions and see real change on campus. 

SHaW Project Coordinator Tara Watrous commented on the importance of the program by referencing possible benefits for students and the distinct aspects of the challenge. 

“This challenge has revealed synergy and opportunity to co-create experiential learning for students across academic and student-affair divisions,” Watrous said. “We are confident that students will take away skill sets that will help them professionally, understand how to analyze health data and positively impact our UConn Community. What is unique about the Innovate Wellness Challenge is that the top teams get to test their solutions, the challenge goes beyond theory and prototype to implementation.” 

In the past many useful changes have been put into place because of the program, according to Watrous. 

“Since last year’s challenge, we have been working with the top two teams to integrate their solutions. The first placed team, Wellness Points, wanted to create an app that incentives health behaviors. The second placed team, Team Pawsitivity, wanted to expand pet therapy throughout campus and create an app to track events,” Watrous stated. “In Fall 2019, two students worked with OPIM Innovate to design a prototype for the Pet Therapy App. Colleen Atkinson, Health Educator for Student Health and Wellness, helped Team Pawsitivity bring their expansion vision to fruition by taking pet therapy campus-wide. As for the Wellness Points team, this project has been a much larger endeavor. Student Health and Wellness is collaborating with InCHIP, student capstone projects, Student Affairs IT and OPIM Innovate to move this project forward.” 

SHaW has also created the Innovate Wellness Committee, a group of students and faculty whose priority is to implement winning strategies from the challenge, design new projects and expand UConn’s capability to include health and wellness projects created by students. 

Recently, UConn’s mental health services have come under attack for inadequacy related to long wait times, financial expenses and lack of student input.  

Registration for the challenge closes Feb. 12. The form to register can be found on UConn’s Student Health and Wellness website. 


Sean Donovan is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at sean.m.donovan@uconn.edu 

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