Symposium brings health, wellness to forefront

Health and well-being are important issues for employees, and Iowa State's inaugural Health and Wellness Symposium on Feb. 3 will give them an opportunity to learn from and connect with others across campus.

The free symposium will highlight resources available to faculty, staff and students, initiatives and programs at the university, allow employees to take part in skill training, and share best practices. University public health coordinator Kristen Clark and associate director of the Thielen Student Health Center Ashley Pick are co-chairs of the symposium and hope attendees can forge connections across campus.

Health and Wellness Symposium breakout sessions

Session I (2-2:50 p.m.)

Employee well-being and engagement

  • Mindfulness at work
  • Having fun and being creative at work
  • Through surviving to thriving
  • Caregiving relationships: Conversations on aging

Student well-being and engagement

  • We need to talk: Promoting sexual health and relationship communication strategies
  • Depression? Anxiety? Loneliness? Procrastination? How to access confidential, evidence-based and free mental health resources
  • Body respect: How to develop a better relationship with food and your body

Session II (3-3:50 p.m.)

Supporting well-being and engagement

  • Creating health-promoting spaces on campus
  • Addiction: Stigmas, norms and tough talk tools
  • Reimagining well-being: A platform for the employee experience
  • Supporting colleagues: Through surviving to thriving

Personal well-being and engagement

  • Enhance time management and motivation
  • Mindful movement and engaging in sustainable physical activity
  • Self-care isn't selfish: Strategies for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) mental well-being (BIPOC attendees only)

"It is a great opportunity to spend time with people who have shared interests that you may not have other opportunities to engage with," Clark said.

Pick said some of the best learning comes from seeing and hearing what others are doing to enhance health and wellness at Iowa State. Students have nominated faculty who have "gone above and beyond for [students'] health and wellness," Pick said.

"We will be honoring some faculty for the things they have done for students," she said.

Preregister for the symposium online to ensure a soup and sandwich or salad lunch. Same-day registration will be available but won't include lunch. Supervisors are asked to be flexible with employees to allow them to attend, and faculty and staff are encouraged to go to as many sessions as possible.

The idea for the symposium took shape in 2018, led by the student health and wellness unit, but the pandemic interrupted progress several times, including the cancellation of last year's event.

"From the beginning, the vision was to have a conference and professional development opportunity focused on health and well-being every year," said director of student wellness Brian Vanderheyden. "It allows us to discuss the issues that impact employees and students."

A day to focus on health

Speakers, breakout sessions, lunch and optional training make up the day (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) in the Memorial Union. Senior vice president of student affairs Toyia Younger will welcome attendees in the Great Hall.

The afternoon starts with two 50-minute breakout sessions (see box). The first session offers topics specific to employee or student audiences, and the second focuses on supporting well-being and promoting personal well-being. The sessions are discussions led by university leaders, faculty and students.

"People are going to come to the symposium at different places, and some may want to focus on themselves while others will focus on supporting others," Vanderheyden said.

At 4 p.m., keynote speaker Raphael Florestal-Kevelier, assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness and executive director of the University of Illinois Chicago Counseling Center, will discuss the importance of building organizational capacity around health and wellness and prioritizing well-being on a college campus.

Two optional trainings will be offered at 10:30 a.m., also in the Memorial Union: a Green Dot introduction to the basic elements of the program, and Question, Persuade and Refer, the suicide prevention training that teaches the warning signs of suicide crisis and how to respond.