Integrated Well-Being Center opens

January 18, 2021

Campus Life

The University of Richmond has been at the forefront of colleges exploring modern approaches to student well-being. This month the University further solidified its commitment with the opening of the Well-Being Center, which is designed to enable students to develop a holistic approach to well-being that will not only serve them while they are on campus, but throughout life.

The collaborative, high-impact environment of the Center will support student learning and well-being. It houses the Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services, as well as health promotion and nutrition services. Locating these critical student services in a single location enhances the University’s ability to provide integrated care and support for students.

Studies for years have shown that students are struggling with mental health concerns like anxiety and depression. A new report found that one-third of college students reported emotional distress brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve eliminated the barriers for students seeking help,” said Tom Roberts, associate vice president of health and well-being.

Research indicates students often neglect three areas: nutrition, mindfulness, and sleep. The Well-Being Center offers solutions to all three.

The new building includes features to encourage students to visit the facility not only when they need care, but also when they want to be proactive about their health. The Center offers a meditation garden, labyrinth, salt spa, and rest stop with massage chairs and sleep pods. The Organic Krush Café offers health food options and a demonstration kitchen will help students understand how to prepare nutritious dishes. Well-being classes also will be offered.

“Some of these things sound like such luxuries, but they are really necessities,” Roberts said. “I hope students come in here and find something they need and that can help them.”

A familiar face at the Center will be Emmett, a facility dog, who will work mainly at the welcome desk. Unlike a therapy dog that works one-to-one, Emmett is trained to work five days a week during business hours. “Lots of our students are asking for support animals,” Roberts said. “They do miss their pets. Emmett can help with that.”

Plans for the $20 million building kicked off in April 2018 with the announcement of a lead gift from the Walrath Family Foundation, a philanthropic foundation established by alumni Michael and Michelle Walrath.

The Center leverages the strong foundation that was established with the creation of the Weinstein Center for Recreation more than a decade ago, putting the University at the fore of wellness programs. UR also established a Health and Well-being Unit, which unites the University’s medical, counseling and health education efforts.