We found the Student Wellness Center at the University of Cincinnati on social media and loved how they were engaging their students. We reached out to Brandy Reeves, the Director, and asked about the services they provide to students on their campus.
Brandy described the office as a resource center for students that provides education that encourages students to make low-risk decisions. Their purpose is to empower students to make informed decisions regarding their health and wellness by providing evidence-based education, inclusive resources, and non-judgmental support.They have a number of professional staff in the office as well as student peer educators who do a lot of the outreach and implementation of events. Some of their services and events for students are:
- Health Huts: Monthly awareness/tabling events that focus on a different health and wellness topic each month
- Gotcha Covered: Volunteer-based condom distribution program
- Be Wise Party Packs: Party packs for students who live off-campus and throw parties
- Stress Less Fest: Stress relief events held fall and spring semesters; the week before finals week
- Safe Spring Break: Programming the week before spring break; topics usually include sexual health, alcohol, sun safety, and travel safety
- Tobacco Cessation: Free tobacco cessation classes
- Peer Financial Coaching: Free one-on-one financial coaching sessions, led by a trained peer educator; focuses on making a budget, credit, saving money, etc.
- Sexual Assault Awareness Month
- HIV testing: Free, rapid HIV testing for students
- Free products in the office, including internal and external condoms, lubricant, bandaids, dental floss, chapstick, hand sanitizer, and more!
The Student Wellness Center was founded in 1992 and has evolved over the years. The professional staff members tended to be generalists and were able to educate students on a variety of topics, but in 2017, they hired a Program Coordinator for Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs, and also a Sexual Violence Prevention Program Coordinator. Now their staff members are able to focus on a specific topic, and give more attention to student needs.
Brandy mentioned that she doesn’t think their office would be as successful without the partnerships that they have. They currently partner with a number of offices on campus such as Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Conduct and Community Standards, Resident Education and Development, Fraternity and Sorority Life, and Women Helping Women who are on-campus advocates. They are working on building stronger off campus partnerships, but they currently partner with Caracole, which is a Cincinnati AIDS service organization, and the Cincinnati Health Department to offer and promote STI and HIV testing.
Brandy explained that their biggest challenge is physical space. “This makes it difficult to do day-to-day work, as well as to grow. We don’t have any private space, which is a challenge with meeting with employees, student workers, and students who have private questions.” But Brandy also said that they’re making the most out of their situation, by being intentional with their programming, and by doing what they can with their space. She also noted that their staff tends to get along really well, because they’re always working so closely together.
When asked about their biggest success, Brandy said, “Our peer educators. We couldn’t do 75% of the outreach and the work we do without them.” They’re active on social media, and do a lot of outreach by doing presentations, events, and tabling. She continued by saying, “They’re great representatives for our office. I think I’m most proud of them!”