On Jan. 3, Provost Mike Lewis, Ph.D., sent an email to the SLU student body stating that Feb. 11 was to be a mental health day. The plan was to use the day as a refresher to achieve a healthy state of mind through several on-campus activities.
All classes were canceled that day except for medical school and law school students, who were not guaranteed a day off due to their program guidelines. The university, however, remained open for its regular operations. After a fall semester that resulted in the loss of two students, Lewis explained that the welfare day was necessary because there are no scheduled days off the first eight weeks of the spring semester. He also explained that the Omicron variant is a big factor in increasing anxiety among students this semester.
Lewis reviewed the established schedule for undergraduate and graduate students and asked professors to modify their class accordingly. He also called for a more organized class plan to allow students to keep up with their schoolwork without bringing back stress once classes resume. Lewis concluded the email by saying, “As we look to the next academic years, we plan to adjust academic calendars to allow for more of these wellness days. I hope to announce changes for the next academic year before planning begins.
Students were strongly encouraged to attend in-person or online training sessions hosted by the ComPsych Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
that helps students manage
difficult personal situations. The versatility of this program allows students to choose the topic they need help with and attend sessions accordingly. Students were also encouraged to attend counseling sessions. The University Counseling Center offers ten free sessions to all undergraduate, graduate, law, and medical students, whether attending full-time or part-time. During these sessions, students can discuss various issues with a licensed professional.
Other programs such as SLU Medical Plan Resources and SSM Behavioral Health Urgent Care offered additional services to students on Mental Health Day. These support systems are mostly free or inexpensive, allowing easier access for those who need it. The Simon Recreation Center also allowed members to bring a guest free of charge. Wellness Day was finalized according to the Student Wellness Task Force, a group of students, staff and faculty who work to address the needs and concerns of students. They do this by interacting with students and turning their recommendations into action on campus. The Student Welfare Task Force is open to recommendations through an online form that can be submitted anonymously by anyone affiliated with SLU. This ensures that all students and staff have an equal opportunity to voice their mental health needs.