Boards Assisting Universities and Colleges to Address Student Wellness Concerns on a Broader Level

By Baker Tilly October 3, 2019 May 11th, 2021 Blog Post

Opinions expressed in AGB blogs are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the institutions that employ them or of AGB.

This blog post is provided by AGB’s Sustaining Sponsor, Baker Tilly.

A student’s well-being is essential for academic success and personal effectiveness. Universities face a number of challenges that impact students and their well-being, including compliance with laws and regulations, increased prevalence of mental health needs, alcohol and drug issues, sexual misconduct, as well as the proliferation of student data privacy concerns. Student wellness has become an increasingly discussed topic by both university administrators and boards due to the changing needs of students, with an increase in potential negative outcomes, as well as significant reputational consequences. Higher education institutions are seeking ways of promoting, encouraging and maintaining social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual wellness to allow students to make the most of their educational experience.

Universities and colleges are addressing student wellness concerns on a broader level.

 Traditionally, student wellness is addressed by specialized programs and/or offices that are decentralized, leading to communication deficiencies and disconnected care. However, effectively addressing student wellness needs requires collaboration and coordination amongst a number of different units and departments. To ensure the health and wellness of the university community, there need to be clear lines of responsibility and accountability between and among wellness programs. Colleges and universities should also consider the unique wellness needs of different student groups, such as international students, non-undergraduate (i.e., graduate and professional student) populations, first generation students, and LGBTQ students. Additionally, institutions should provide clarity on how to balance student confidentiality while sharing critical student incidents and/or information with relevant personnel, thereby increasing the importance of coordination, clear hand-offs and monitoring.

Ultimately, institutions are becoming more aware of holistic approaches to student needs. Not only does this require the implementation of formal programs to support students, but also leveraging industry leading practices to increase effectiveness. The ongoing approach allows for an innovative, well-managed program.

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To learn more about key risk areas that could potentially impact students, view our webinar Understanding the Student Wellness Risk Landscape hosted by AGB, on Wednesday, November 13 at 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CT.

Colleen Lewis, manager
Andrea Pereira, consultant