Jeannine Kremer (Lee Pellegrini)
During the spring semester, the Boston College Center for Student Wellness is offering a range of new services and events to help BC students live balanced lives, with a particular focus on mental health support. In this Q&A, Jeannine Kremer, who became the center’s full-time director in March 2022, shares her thoughts with John Shakespear, a senior digital content writer in the Office of University Communications, on the role of wellness on campus and the resources that her team offers to all BC students.
What's your vision for the Center for Student Wellness?
I love doing this work at Boston College, because the Jesuit values really guide our mission. Here in our office, we talk about wellness in terms of mind, body, and soul. These three words seem to resonate with our students. Our vision is about caring for the whole person and developing that whole person in relation to the common good.
In practice, that vision looks like daily collaboration. Our staff and our 26 peer wellness coaches—who are all BC students themselves—partner with faculty and staff to make meaningful connections with students. The goal is to give them opportunities to reflect on their personal wellness so they can develop concrete skills and make healthy decisions that will hopefully last far beyond their four years here at BC.
Our approach is also rooted in prevention. Sometimes people think, “I should only have a coaching appointment when something is wrong.” And that’s really not the case. We hope the array of programs and coaching sessions we offer will give students the time and space to invest in themselves, define their wellness goals, learn new skills to manage stress, explore new ways of moving, and find a sense of belonging in the BC community. Ultimately, our goal is to create a culture of wellness across this campus, so it’s part of daily life.
What health and wellness resources can BC students take advantage of?
I always say that the best place to start is to stop by the center and say hello and visit our “health hub” just outside Gasson 013. We want this to be a welcoming space where students can make tea and coffee, have a snack, study, and connect with us. Alternatively, they can easily go online and schedule a wellness coaching session with a peer wellness coach. In those sessions, the student is in the driver’s seat—our goal is to give them strategies for the specific areas of health they want to work on, whether that’s getting more exercise, reflecting on their substance use, or finding more community.
When they stop by, students can also pick up a personalized wellness kit that includes tea, a stress ball, a sleep mask, and wellness tips. In the fall semester, with the help of partners across campus, we put together 2,000 wellness kits and distributed them in offices and classrooms around campus.
We also have plenty of online resources available on our website for tending to your mind, body, and soul, including expert tips and videos on nutrition, mental health, sleep, relationships, and so much more. Students can use our online BeWell and ChooseWell screenings to self-assess their wellness when it comes to their general health and their substance use; through those screenings, too, we can connect them with the resources and services that seem most helpful to them.
What are some new initiatives and events this semester?
This year, we created a dedicated position focused on mental health and wellness. As we started to roll out initiatives like the Mental Health Matters: Let’s Talk About It campaign, I was blown away by how many students and student groups came to the office to say, “We want to do more around mental health, and we want to work with you.”
Through those partnerships, we’re going to do an event around Autism Awareness Day on April 2, and in early May, we’re going to collaborate with several student groups to put on a Mental Health Awareness Week. Different student organizations will be tabling and hosting events, and there will be something different every day for students to engage in. In February, we are also launching a pilot of our campus-wide QPR suicide prevention program, and we have 13 people on campus who’ve been certified to train others to be “gatekeepers” who recognize the warning signs when a student is in crisis.
In partnership with University Counseling Services and University Health Services, we’re organizing three “Wellness Wednesdays”—one in February, March, and April. The Center for Student Wellness is going to host the first one on February 15. It’ll be a chance to come together over hot cocoa, do some fun activities, and make new connections in the middle of the semester. And throughout the semester we’ll be hosting Mindful Mondays, where students can stop in during lunch and learn some mindfulness techniques. For those who want a deeper dive, we’re also going to be offering four-week training sessions in the Koru Mindfulness curriculum, which is designed for college students. The goal of all these initiatives is to reduce stigma so students feel comfortable talking about mental health, and to ultimately help them build their mental health toolkits.
I’m also excited that we’re expanding our Collegiate Recovery Program and our outreach to women in recovery. BC’s Recovery House is joining our center this year, and Sober on the Heights AA meetings have returned in person. This spring, we will offer groups for children of adult alcoholics for the first time.
As always, we’ll wrap up the semester by hosting our annual Finals Relaxation Day. It’s a chance for students to stop in for a massage, a DIY goodie bag, and some stress and time management tips that will hopefully help them finish off the year healthy and well.
For more about the Center for Student Wellness, go to bc.edu/student-wellness.
University Communications | January 2023