Well-being initiative builds mental health awareness

Everyone’s journey is different. 

East Carolina University offers a wide range of mental health and well-being resources, and now, Campus Recreation and Wellness (CRW) is raising awareness and connecting the campus community to those resources through the #YouMatterECU campaign.

On Wednesday, a #YouMatterECU Resource Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Main Campus Student Center will provide an opportunity to learn more about the services available on campus and in the community.

“You matter, simply put,” said Steven Trotter, director of well-being at CRW and chair of the ECU Well-Being Collective. “Traditionally Generation Z is more open about talking about mental health than previous generations, and our goal is just to continue normalizing that conversation. There is hope and there’s help. The second objective is to make people aware of those resources for mental health specifically, but also overall well-being.”

Finally, there’s a call to action encouraging all Pirates to help themselves and others by using well-being resources and keeping an eye out for those around them who might benefit from them as well.

Trotter likens well-being to a car’s gas tank — when your tank is full, that’s when you’re thriving, he said. “When you’re at the halfway point, you’re striving. And when the gas light’s on, that’s when you’re surviving. You can’t just fill up once and be done with it; it’s a constant thing.”

Video contributed by ECU Campus Recreation and Wellness

There are as many as 12 clinics on campus that provide mental health services, and that doesn’t include CRW’s preventative mental health awareness and coaching resources, said Gwen Krause, CRW coordinator of well-being. There are virtual and teletherapy options, and CRW also offers BetterYou, a free app available to students, faculty and staff that allows users to set well-being goals and incentivizes mindfulness, and social and physical well-being.

Part of the effort is providing a central place where students, faculty and staff can seek resources and find the help that’s right for them.

“The way I describe it is that #YouMatterECU is the tree and all the services are the branches of it,” Trotter said.

To that end, the #YouMatterECU website has been updated as a hub of well-being information, resources and messaging. There are graphics and guides for any department or any student to easily share branded messages to help in the awareness effort. It’s also part of the core curriculum in the COAD class and Health 1000, Krause said, and faculty members can request well-being ambassadors to deliver workshops about well-being resources and techniques in any class. As another part of the outreach effort, students have recorded testimonials for CRW’s YouTube channel.

There are in-person well-being hubs at both student centers and a series of resource fairs at which students can learn about campus resources and participate in therapeutic activities to learn stress relief techniques. The next resource fair will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the Main Campus Student Center.

The effort is student-centered, Krause said. Students designed the graphics for the T-shirts, stickers and informational materials. Student ambassadors also take the lead on Well-Being Wednesdays, a weekly outreach effort on both campuses that might include something like handing out flowers or affirmation messages, she said.

“We really just want to create and foster that support network on campus,” Krause said. “It’s been really well received by students, and they’re eager to participate in all of the weekly programming we do.”

Grace Marks, a junior majoring in nutrition and dietetics, said she has benefited from several of CRW’s programs, especially well-being coaching.

“It’s sort of like having an accountability partner,” said Marks, who has learned a variety of techniques to help manage her time and stress levels. “For me, it really helps to keep up with my planner and make sure that I know what’s coming up and what needs to be done.”

There are a lot of different resources available, which is a good thing, Trotter said, but it can make it difficult to navigate. “So we’re all working behind the scenes to make sure that we’re communicating with each other and the community to make sure students, faculty and staff are getting the best possible experience.”

For more information, visit the #YouMatterECU website.