Integrative Wellbeing Services offers Wonder Walks to address mental health

Wendy Adam hosts weekly walks on Mondays from 1 to 1:45 p.m. Photo courtesy of Steve Klass.

With spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to start taking advantage of the pleasant weather by participating in Wonder Walks, a program offered by Integrative Wellbeing Services (IWS) that strives to benefit the physical and mental health of students.

Available to any students who want to simply wonder aloud about anything on their minds, Wonder Walks is hosted by Dr. Wendy Adam, director of IWS, every Monday from 1 to 1:45 p.m. The outdoors is a judgment-free zone, and the chats are confidential, so all topics are welcome. Students can chat with Adam about anything from personal struggles and decisions to current global events.

Adam explained that the goal of programs like Wonder Walk is for students to “be present to what is actually happening in their lives, have room for their needs, know how to take good care of themselves, contribute to the care for others and to ask for help when needed.”

Wonder Walks is one of several new programs organized by IWS to address a current national mental health crisis among college students. As of 2016, over 25 percent of college students have intentionally committed self-harm, and one in three students have seriously considered committing suicide. Nationwide data regarding the past 12 months also indicates high percentages of students reporting feeling overwhelmed (91 percent), exhausted (88 percent), very lonely (71 percent) and hopeless (53 percent) – all feelings the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognize as risk factors for suicide. The College, of course, is no exception to these concerning trends, which is why it has recently invested heavily in mental health services and expanded the IWS staff.

Adam said that integrating and managing the physiological, social, emotional and spiritual aspects of daily life is vital for busy students who wish to thrive in the fast-paced college environment. This applies especially to students at academically rigorous and sometimes pressuring institutions such as the College.

“Ultimately, in this time of mental health crises across college campuses, IWS maintains its enduring commitment to the highest quality mental health treatment services and aims to contribute not only to our own students’ wellbeing, but to actively contribute to understanding how to cultivate needed skills in college students that will empower their wellbeing in college and beyond,” Adam said.   

Adam believes that the College is addressing mental health issues on campus to a degree that, unfortunately, many other institutions have not been able to. “While Williams enjoys the capacity to invest heavily in increased mental health service provisions and provides ongoing, uncapped access to counseling services, most institutions of higher learning across the country simply cannot,” she said. Adam emphasized the importance of acknowledging “this area of privilege at [the College],” encouraging community members to “look for our role in contributing to improved access and change during this obvious time of need within the larger college population nationwide.”

Wonder Walks is an excellent opportunity to ask questions and give feedback to Adam. Additionally, the walk benefits both mental and physical health. Getting some exercise and breathing the fresh air can do wonders for the stressed-out College student.

Wonder Walks is a unique resource from which countless students can benefit. Whether you are lonely, stressing out or contemplating the meaning of life, consider participating in Wonder Walks with Adam.

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