A Safe Zone
For many students the wellness center serves as an escape from the hustle and bustle of life on campus, a quiet place for self-reflection. While there are counseling services and medical care offered, students often sit outside in the blue lawn chairs doing homework or studying for exams. Others relax in the Zen garden.
Helen Tariku ’21, a cardio dance instructor at the recreation center, says the center has created quite a buzz among students because of its unique approach to wellness and its high visibility in the heart of campus.
“One of the reasons I decided to come to William & Mary is because I like the One Tribe, One Family aspect that we promote,” Tariku says. “I think the wellness center helps foster that sentiment because it serves as a hub for students to interact and study that is different from the usual places.”
Two-thirds of students who struggle with stress and anxiety do not seek treatment because of the stigma surrounding mental health and asking for help, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. The wellness center is trying to change this by making total wellness the focus and putting five of the university’s wellness departments under one roof.
“This is intended to be a learning center for students to be actively engaged about what wellness looks like for them, no matter what personal or cultural lens they have of wellness,” Crace says. “Our goal is that when students come here for a specific reason like an allergy shot, they leave feeling like something bigger is going on here and they feel intrigued by it.”
Allison Moyer ’21 is a member of the campus group HOPE, which provides health and wellness education to students. The group holds their meetings at the wellness center.
“As a student involved in health education, it’s really nice to have a resource like the wellness center to point students to for services,” Moyer says. “It’s a place you can go get medicine or to have a doctor look at your sore throat, but it’s also a place where you can get a massage, or take a yoga or tai chi class. You may be there for one thing, but you get exposure to all these other services because it’s all housed in one location.”
Donati says the center’s impact on her life will last beyond graduation.
“The building itself is a wonderful thing to have on campus, but the whole perspective that the wellness center brings has made the greatest impact on my life,” Donati says. “I plan to focus on my own wellness in the future. As opposed to just thinking that I have to work, work, work to get the career that I want, I know that I have to include wellness in my plan in order to build a life that I love.”