This summer, UCCS was designated a Hunger Free and Healthy Mind campus by the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE). This designation is a result of the effort put forth by the campus to ensure students have access to things like food, housing and healthcare.
“Basic needs security and mental wellness are foundational for student success both in the classroom and outside of it,” said Amber Gilson, Basic Needs Coordinator. “It’s great to see the UCCS community come together to support our students in these areas.”
Access to food and mental health help are areas of top concern for many college students. A report received through the National College Health Assessment indicated that 48.9% of UCCS students reported some level of food insecurity, and 42.4% reported stress negatively impacted their academic performance within the last 12 months.
But the campus is here to help. 42.5% of respondents at UCCS reported they have access to medical, mental health and nutrition services solely because of the Wellness Center on campus.
Fortunately, the Wellness Center offers quite a few programs for mental health.
All students have access to three free counseling sessions per semester, as well as free access to SilverCloud, an online mental health platform. SilverCloud has modules on mental health concerns that students can go through individually or with a coach.
The Wellness Center is also offering more mental health trainings and workshops, including QPR suicide prevention. Classroom and group presentations on stress management, mindfulness and other wellbeing topics are available as well.
For those students for whom food insecurity is a concern, UCCS offers a wide variety of programs, including Clyde’s Cupboard, Fresh Food Fridays, Mountain Lion Meals and more.
Clyde’s Cupboard provides nonperishable items including food and toiletries, while Fresh Food Fridays, which take place every other Friday during fall and spring semesters, provide fresh fruits, veggies, milk, bread and occasionally meat. The Mountain Lion Meals program provides up to three free meals each week to UCCS students at one of the on-campus dining halls, the Roaring Fork or The Lodge.
A few times per year, the teams behind the hunger free and healthy minds programs come together to offer events and programs. This semester, the group offered a Food & Mood workshop — where participants learned about how nutrition influences mental health, followed by a community meal at the Roaring Fork — and Farmhouse Fridays, which offer mindfulness activities and a farm-to-table meal every Friday.
“I am proud of the efforts our campus is making to help meet our students’ mental health and basic needs,” said Chrissie Bailey, Assistant Director of Wellness Promotion. “We know these needs must be met for students to succeed academically and thrive during their time at UCCS and beyond.”
Assistance goes beyond the campus as well. UCCS students have access to Single Stop, a free online screening tool which connects users to local community and governmental resources (e.g. SNAP and Medicaid) that can assist in meeting their basic needs. The Basic Needs Coordinator can then provide support for students when accessing and navigating these resources, such as application assistance and need identification.