In recent months, the movement to improve Columbia students’ quality of life has gained traction, in part due to the work of the Student Wellness Project. To mention only SWP, though, would be to discount the other groups that have come forth in the name of wellness. Active Minds, a national organization dedicated to increasing student awareness about mental health awareness, has recently established a chapter on campus and will be in close coordination with SWP. Go Ask Alice! has revamped its website, and Stressbusters, in addition to providing free massages, also provides a list of campus resources for everything from sleeping problems to sexual assault. Even the Columbia Neuroscience Society has contributed to the movement by increasingly tweeting on depression and related issues.
We expect to see good things from these groups in their goals toward creating a more supportive atmosphere for Columbia students. It is important to note, however, that these multiple efforts need not remain disparate. The wellness movement, even with such a broad base of support, is still at an early stage. At a time when the newer groups have yet to produce tangible results, collaboration is crucial.
Collaboration doesn’t mean that the groups need to agree on a set of common goals or forgo their respective nuances. Wellness, after all, is an expansive term. Multiple groups, each with different approaches, cater to the various aspects of wellness and give students several options. SWP has a more general approach to “wellness” and focuses on creating a community of students passionate about the issue, while Active Minds has a heavier focus on destigmatizing mental health issues, and the Columbia Neuroscience Society brings its own scientific perspective into the mix.
But while differences can enrich, it is also important that these groups harness their synergies in order to direct students to the resources they need. By working together, they also will be able to make a stronger demand to the administration to join in and produce tangible results. SWP has already mentioned the possibility of creating a “wellness hub” with Go Ask Alice! and sitting down with NSOP leaders. This sort of collaboration is a necessity for the wellness movement to get on its feet. We hope it continues.
Hannah D'Apice recused herself from the writing of this editorial because of a personal connection to SWP.