What UNH is doing to help students stay well

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

sleep kit
A sleep kit — one of many free snooze-enhancing offerings provided by UNH Health Services


There are lots of lists offering advice to students on what they should look for when choosing a college: majors and degree programs, financial aid options, location, class size and job placement rates, for example.

Topping the lists less often are wellness programs. And yet, two of the biggest challenges students face — stress and lack of sleep — are critical components to wellness. Managing those issues, and others, can take support. At UNH, the whole-body, whole-student is viewed as a critical component of learning.

“Stress management and sleep are so closely intertwined. We want students to know how to address these and any other wellness concerns they may have,” says Kathleen Grace-Bishop, director of education and promotion at UNH Health Services.

The goal is to help students develop self-care techniques and coping mechanisms to address issues that could cause problems, Grace-Bishop says, noting that UNH offers a range of self-care strategies, from wellness coaching and counseling to power napping at the new Health Services location in the Hamel Recreation Center (HRC).

“We hope this expands the reach we have,” Dawn Zitney, Health Services wellness educator/counselor, says of the HRC site. “Wellness is more than just body movement.”

And while some students might use the new space to grab a catnap between classes, the “nap” room is actually a meditation room, with blankets and mats on the floor, allowing students the chance to recharge and reconnect with themselves during the day. A demonstration kitchen allows for weekly cooking classes where students learn how to prepare healthy, economical meals. “Classes have been filling up every week,” Zitney says.

Health Services at the HRC offers many of the same services students can get at the Pettee Brook Lane location, including education and counseling services, massage and wellness workshops. In the future, students will be able to seek clinical services with a nurse or nurse or nurse practitioner there.  

“We know there is a connection between the various aspects of a student's physical and mental health and their ability to succeed academically,” Grace-Bishop says. “Focusing on wellness helps students see this interconnection, work on areas needing attention and assists them in reaching their potential.”

Here’s a sampling of what Health Services offers to help students succeed in wellness: 

Wellness Coaching: Discovering how to better understand personal wellness, make decisions that align with our personal goals and values and live the life we want can sometimes be hard to do alone. Health Services wellness coaches collaborate with students to co-create wellness visions, uncover strengths and develop action plans to enhance their lifestyle and experience at UNH. Wellness coaching is free for full-time students. More info

Massage Therapy: Studies have shown massage to be effective in reducing stress and muscle tension while promoting relaxation. Both traditional and hot stone massages with a licensed massage therapist are offered at a reduced rate. Appointments may be made online. More info

Biofeedback: Electronic sensors are used to gather information about what’s going on in one’s body. Feedback on that data allows an individual to make changes such as relaxing muscles or changing positions to achieve the desired results. Biofeedback has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, increase concentration and improve sleep, among other benefits. Fifteen 30-minute sessions done during the course of several weeks are free. More info

Meditation and Mindfulness: Health Services offers free individual, group and drop-in classes. Students also can take a 4-week program that provides insight on how mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve self-care and impact academic success. Group options are available Monday and Friday. Drop-in sessions are available Mondays at Health Services and Thursdays at the Health Services Hamel Recreation Center location. More info

Light Therapy: People who tend to feel down or have low energy during the fall and winter months may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition that has been shown to improve with light therapy. Treatment involves sitting in front of a box containing fluorescent bulbs that mimic outdoor light to help change the chemicals in the brain that affect mood. Daily sessions range from 15 minutes to 2 hours. Most sessions last 20-30 minutes. More info

demonstration kitchen at UNH
A Nourish Peer Education workshop in the Health Services demonstration kitchen at Hamel Recreation Center (Photo: UNH Health Services)

Sleep: Getting a good night's sleep is essential to being healthy and well. Health Services offers weekly power napping sessions and students can also meet individually with a wellness counselor to create a personalized sleep plan. Free sleep kits containing educational materials, eye masks, ear plugs, herbal tea and self-care techniques are also available. More info

Nutrition: Eating right is one of those things that can fall off when we get busy. Yet the benefits and consequences of not doing so are too important to ignore. Health Services’ registered dietitian works with students one-on-one to help guide them to healthy eating habits. Sessions are free for full-time students. More info

Alcohol and Other Drugs: Confidential counseling is available for students who want to talk about their alcohol, tobacco or other drug use. This is free for full-time students. More info

Financial Wellness: Programs and workshops are designed to help students develop practical skills such as creating and sticking to a budget, avoiding credit card debt and making their money go further. More info

For more information about any of these wellness options, visit Health Services.