“Students enter college in the middle of a triangle of academics, social life, and self-care,” says Elise Phillips, founding director of Boston College’s Office of Health Promotion (OHP). According to conventional wisdom, today’s undergraduates feel so overworked, overwhelmed, overcommitted, and overstimulated, they can only pick two sides of the triangle to pursue, Phillips explained. Grades, friends, wellness—one must suffer, the thinking goes. “But we say you can choose all three.”
The University’s commitment to the Jesuit ideal of cura personalis—care for the whole person’s body, mind, and spirit—supports a rich array of programs and services that enhance your student’s mental, social, physical, spiritual, and academic well-being throughout his or her undergraduate years.
Among Boston College’s signal wellness resources is OHP, a group of staff and student educators, social workers, and nutritionists. Founded in 2011, the health promotion office takes a “holistic approach to health and wellness,” says Phillips, and is “grounded in the belief that if you feel good and you’re able to make choices that educate and empower you, you’re going to be a better person, student, friend, daughter, or son.”
At the center of OHP is its Health Coach Institute, which each year trains and certifies some 80 undergraduate health coaches in one of six specialties: stress management, time management, alcohol, sleep, nutrition, and resilience. Coaches meet either one-on-one or in small groups with students, and work with them to create individualized health plans. The coaches (who engage in some 400 conversations a year) “never give advice,” says Phillips. “We train them in motivational interviewing skills, to have open-ended conversations. When a student has an issue, coaches ask, ‘What have you tried doing? What’s been helpful? What challenges are you having?’ No judgments.”