As the COVID-19 pandemic response wears on, counselors at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine are ensuring its effects don’t further impact the mental health of students, faculty and staff.
At 3 p.m. every Wednesday and continuing through May, the college’s Counseling and Wellness team is providing Wellness Wednesday - a free, live, hourlong webinar that provides tips on one of nine dimensions of wellness. The webinar is open to students, faculty and staff at the College of Veterinary Medicine.
“We miss being able to hang out with our peers,” Mental Health Provider Rocky Lucas said. “In providing a time and space where we are presenting information that is meaningful and light-hearted, it, at the least, allows for that social connection.
”The nine dimensions of wellness covered are based on Psychiatrist Margaret Swarbrick’s eight dimensions of wellness - emotional, environmental, financial, identity, intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual.
Lucas said the ninth dimension - creative wellness - was recently introduced.
The Zoom webinars are recorded and posted online for later viewing. The counselors are seeing a positive turnout as well.“
Walking into the counseling office can cause anxiety,” Bethany Colaprete, director of Counseling and Wellness said. “If we do it through Zoom it is like we are having a meeting. It doesn't feel like therapy.
”She said the webinar could be part of the veterinary college-based practice moving forward.
In addition to the weekly webinar, the college is introducing a complimentary “Well-Check” for all incoming first-year students this fall. The voluntary visit consists of a 30-minute appointment where the student can cover whatever topics they wish.
Most importantly, it can be beneficial for student health in the competitive and rigorous veterinary education environment.
According to a study by the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, veterinarians are up to 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide than members of the general public.
“A Well-Check appointment is a way for a mental health professional to check in and see how things are going,” Colaprete said. “They will have the option to do it again in spring semester.
”She said Well-Checks could be done via electronic appointment if necessary.
The team is also exploring a user-friendly and applicable electronic health record program that will track students’ progress anonymously and establish a mental health and wellbeing baseline.
“Once we get the program up and running, we can identify trends and better address the mental health needs of our students,” Colaprete said.