Dr. Alexis Travis is the assistant provost and executive director of University Health and Wellbeing. The division brings together 11 departments focused on supporting faculty, staff and student health and wellbeing.
Looking back on my time leading the new University Health and Wellbeing team, which will reach one year in November, it strikes me that bringing together 11 units that focus on supporting the health and wellbeing of our Spartan community, together as one cohesive team, happened at exactly the right time. Together, we serve students, faculty and staff, including all geographical locations and MSU online community members. Our charge is to support all aspects of physical, mental and social health and wellbeing as MSU advances to become a health promoting university. Our new team structure has facilitated the health and wellbeing responses at MSU in partnership with the University Physician and the Office of Health Sciences.
As a public health practitioner, I have always prioritized mental health personally and professionally – some of my earliest experiences and understanding came from direct service roles as a caregiver to people living with schizophrenia and as a volunteer crisis counselor, at Childline UK and later at Long Island Crisis Center in New York. Since working with behavioral health teams in Massachusetts and Michigan, I’ve learned that emotional trauma is something most people carry to varying extents. Access to supports, services and individual and community resilience all play a role in how people navigate and recover from trauma. Since the events of Feb. 13, I’ve heard statements like: “The whole campus is a center for survivors in the wake of Feb. 13.” It’s not a literal fact, but it is an acknowledgement that we all need to be more trauma-informed as a community and understand the trauma which has been experienced at an individual and institutional level. All Spartans may not feel traumatized by recent events, and that is OK too; trauma is experienced uniquely by individuals.
For all Spartans, we know that looking after our minds and bodies and staying socially connected are important. It’s important to continue to make sure you get enough sleep, eat well and stay active. We know that people heal best together in community. UHW hosts a series of healing events to provide opportunities for people to enjoy time in relaxing beautiful spaces on campus and enjoy music.
We are also excited to launch Mindful STATE, a university wide program designed to help Spartans begin or deepen their mindfulness practice. The program features Spartan Voices, Spartans teaching Spartans about the benefits of mindfulness practice. Right now, Spartans can use meditation videos through the program that focus on stress, worry and feeling overwhelmed. In the near future the program will feature a website, social media engagement, mindfulness classes, community meditation events and QR codes in various campus locations. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our team is also available for outreach at events upon request. We are able to provide counselors, therapy animals and other health promotion resources. We have a variety of services available for in-person, virtual, individual and group, routine and crisis support. New this year, Counseling and Psychiatric Services, or CAPS, will be offering a program called Togetherall, which is a free, anonymous online peer-to-peer mental health support community. The program will be available online all hours of the day. We look forward to bringing more events and resources to the MSU community that will engage mindfulness and relaxation to continue to build on our community resilience.
One of the most important things I want the campus community to know is that your wellbeing is unique to you. It may not look like your friends’ or colleagues’ experience or response and that is OK. We are here to support you in whatever ways feel comfortable and appropriate to you. If you have questions, please reach out to email@example.com.