Appalachian State University’s Wellness and Prevention Services was created in 2015 to “help students navigate their university years safely and successfully, through education and training,” said Dr. Alex F. Howard, director.
Wellness and Prevention Services promotes health awareness and active lifestyles while taking a holistic approach to wellness that encompasses eight dimensions: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual.
To that end, this summer Appalachian joined The Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program (The Campus Program), which is designed to help colleges and universities assess and enhance mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programming. Participating schools make a four-year commitment to work with The Campus Program to evaluate and identify opportunities to augment these activities on campus.
Howard reported at the beginning of Fall 2016 semester the department is in the second phase of research in the form of focus groups designed to explore “what is actually occurring within the student body and to inform the best-use resources.”
Howard said the department’s primary focus remains: alcohol use and abuse; interpersonal violence and sexual violence; and mental well-being. Two positions were recently created, Howard said, “to bolster our services to populations of interest, i.e., transfer students, racial/ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, first-generation, veterans, and/or students in recovery or seeking recovery services.” These are populations, according to Howard, reported to have higher rates of negative experience or behavior on campuses nationwide. Ben Asma was appointed assistant director of the program and works with a post-master’s trainee, Jerrin Kollick, a graduate of Appalachian’s Master of Arts program in marriage and family therapy program.
Additionally, the department offers educational programs on topics such as nutrition, sexual health, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, stress and sleep. Howard’s goal is to provide evidence-based wellness and prevention training and education to the greatest number of faculty, staff and students.