Healthy Campus Initiative plans to add mental health resources


Rachel Basela

Steve Waterfield, OU Athletic Director, is part of the Healthy Campus Initiative, launched by the university to promote positive mental health.

The OU Healthy Campus Initiative is offering a reminder to focus on health, after a physically and mentally draining year for many. 

“For all of us, COVID-19 has been overwhelming… We must be mindful that the next few months will continue to pose public, personal and mental health challenges,” Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz said in the official video.” 

Recent months have posed increased public health issues: discrepancies in healthcare availability, social isolation, trauma and food insecurities. Campus officials are acknowledging these struggles and urging students to use health resources. 

“We all have experienced the direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our work, ourselves and our families,” Director of Athletics Steve Waterfield said in the official email. “It is time that we acknowledge that impact and do something about it.” 

Waterfield, Pescovitz and Becky Lewis, associate director of university recreation and well-being chimed in with their recommendations in an advice video, available on the Healthy Campus Initiative page on OU’s website. 

While Waterfield notes there will be a “variety” of healthy resources accessible in the next year, there are a few suggestions for right now. Visiting the health section of OU’s website and following their social media, using friends or coworkers to stay on track and relaxing were the main healthy highlights. 

New outreaches will involve human resource efforts, OU’s counseling center and the Recreation and Well-Being Center, according to Waterfield. No specific additions have been announced yet though. 

Other departments and programs are encouraged to partner with the Healthy Campus Initiative by filling out a registration form on OU’s website. Any approved partners to the program could be featured on OU’s or OU’s Athletics social media pages.    

During the pandemic, OU has made a similar outreach, partnering with Spread Hope, Not COVID in October. Pescovitz reminds students and faculty to continue following the three w’s — wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands. 

“Conversations about how we feel should include our physical and mental health,” Pescovitz said in the official video. 

The Healthy Campus Initiative is more tailored to mental health on campus. Currently, Lewis recommends iPause and the Green Bandana Project, while they plan expansions of OU’s mental programs. Both programs aim to end the stigma surrounding mental health care. 

“When we prioritize our ourselves and mental health and take advantage of these resources… available at OU, we are all more successful,” Lewis said in the official video.