BYU forms Wellness Wise Committee to help improve campus wellbeing

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BYU organized the Wellness Wise Committee as a way to improve wellness for members of the campus community.

The committee’s mission is to “cultivate campus-wide collaborations and initiatives that advance wellness for all campus community members and fulfill BYU’s mission of the ‘balanced development of the total person.’”

The committee is composed of members from across departments and areas of campus, and was formed because of the need to organize things already being done to help faculty and staff with wellness, Nathan Ormsby said. Ormsby is the director of Student Wellness at BYU, and serves as chair of the Wellness Wise Committee.

Since its organization during Fall Semester 2022, the committee has been working on creating a definition of wellness for use across campus, Ormsby said, and recently put on their first event in collaboration with the Ballard Center. 

Mental health and wellness has been receiving greater attention on campus in recent years, and Ormsby said the focus with the committee is on how to prevent or help people work through challenges, before therapy and counseling are needed.  

The Wellness Wise Committee has come up with six areas of wellness to focus on bimonthly. This month’s focus is physical wellness. (Courtesy of Wellness Wise)

As one of their first initiatives, the committee has identified six different areas of wellness that they will highlight throughout the year and has created a schedule with one different area focused on every two months, with January and February being focused on physical wellness

Nathan Ormsby, chair of the Wellness Wise Committee, explains the six different areas of wellness and why they chose different months to focus on them. Each area was chosen with consideration of students’ needs. (Annika Ohran)

The members of the committee come from areas such as the Student Wellness office, the Office of Belonging, the Public Health Department and more. “I think having all of these different perspectives just gives us a pretty well-rounded approach and helps us …. make something that fits for everybody,” Michael Andrew, the BYUSA representative on the committee, said.

Andrew said he has been able to share things the committee may have overlooked and has provided input on the way students receive information and how to reach them better. 

The committee has been laying down the foundation of their work, along with creating a process for different departments and organizations to propose events to the committee that they want support in, Andrew said.

“It’s not really about making a lot of new things right now, it’s more about how we magnify everything that’s happening on campus already so that it can reach more and have a larger impact,” Ormsby said.

The Wellness Wise Committee first lent their support to the Ballard Center’s Peery Film Festival, collaborating with them on a Wellness Wise Workshop. About 325 people attended the workshop over the two days it was held, said Cydne Baker, the event lead for the Ballard Center. 

Baker said many students expressed their gratitude after the workshop, and one student in particular said it helped her feel better after being diagnosed with depression earlier that day. “She felt like she could continue on and that her depression … wasn’t the end of the world and that she could still live a happy life and functional life,” Baker said. 

Baker said she thinks the committee will do a great job bringing awareness to students about wellness resources.

Students looking to improve their wellness can start by thinking about what areas they may be deficient in and take a look at the Wellness Wise website to see what resources there are available, Ormsby said. To help other students, he said they can also share their own experiences and refer other students to the website. 

Ormsby said he hopes that students will come to BYU to grow spiritually, intellectually and in their wellness, as well as “be able to leave with the skills and knowledge, abilities and gifts that they can then use to live well the rest of their lives.”

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