Mind, body, soul: Department takes holistic approach

pie cut ou1 FTWBy Rebecca Jung

Fresh on the job, Megan Patterson, a Baylor alumna with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in public health, is the new director for the department of wellness at Baylor University.

Patterson said this department, which has fewer than three full-time employees, does big things for Baylor students.

“We want to promote the mind, body and soul of Baylor students and we do that mainly through programming,” Patterson said.

The wellness department has an upcoming initiative to promote the physical wellness of students. The initiative is called 30 Thursdays and promotes 30 minutes of physical activity on Thursdays.

The department is also working on a glow-in-the-dark run or other fun activities to get students active.

Because of the small size of the department, a large part of the work it does is through partnerships with other departments.

The addictive substance specialist for instance, spends 20 hours working with the wellness department and 20 hours working with the counseling center.

“One big thing our department handles is working with students who have received citations for drugs or alcohol,” Patterson said.

She said the partnership allows the department to help these students get placed into a counseling group or class through the counseling center.

“Every issue we deal with is complex,” Patterson said.

She said this is one of the main reasons why the department partners with other programs and departments across campus.

“Anytime someone is experiencing emotional stress, then it is harder for them to focus and learn,” said Dr. Cheryl Wooten, a psychologist with the center.

Wooten said the wellness department would like to help address this with an anti-stress campaign close to finals week. The campaign will feature an activity where students can make stress balls, receive massages from a massage therapist and get advice from representatives from the success center.

The counseling center also provides counseling groups to help promote the wellness of students.
“Groups help people grow,” Wooten said.

Some of these groups will include art therapy, women’s and men’s issues, substance abuse and a group for African-American women’s issues.

While working on her masters here at the university, Patterson also taught health classes.

She says that this experience helped prepare her for her current work with the department of wellness. Patterson has several goals for the year.

“One big goal for us is that we want to be more known on campus,” Patterson said. “Students don’t always know we’re here.”

Patterson said another goal the department has is to make sure it is delivering programs that address all six dimensions of wellness: emotional, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual.

The department also provides presentations on wellness-related issues.

“That service is available to anyone. Student groups, departments, even professors that just want us to come speak to a class,” Patterson said.

A large part of Patterson’s job is working on teams with other Baylor faculty and staff.

She is on the alcohol awareness work team, the Body IQ team and the sexual assault team. Working on these teams helps foster the partnerships that provide students with services they need.

“We want to serve the whole person: mind, body, and soul,” Patterson said.

The wellness department has moved to 207 McLane Student Life Center from its previous location on the third floor of the SLC. The faculty now has more space to accommodate students.

While the department of wellness does not offer wellness coaching, Patterson said she wants the department to be a “student-friendly space” where students feel comfortable stopping by to chat or just hang out.

“We love getting to know students,” Patterson said.

The department of wellness office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with occasional evening and weekend programming.