Veterinary College unveils tranquil wellness room to support mental wellbeing
October 10, 2023
The veterinary college has introduced a new freestanding wellness room within its library to prioritize the mental health of its community members. The room or pod serves as a peaceful enclave for students, staff, and faculty, providing a space for spiritual, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Pod offers space for spiritual, mental, and emotional wellness.
Under the leadership of Kyrille DeBose, associate professor and director of Health Sciences Libraries, the college's veterinary medicine library, a branch of of the University Libraries, recognized the evolving demands on students and faculty and took a holistic approach to meet their diverse wellbeing and learning needs.
"The wellness room is an innovative addition designed to cater to individual's mental health and wellness needs, offering a quiet and reflective area for students, staff, and faculty alike," DeBose said.
The college's commitment to mental health began with the academic affairs department acknowledging the importance of addressing spiritual, mental, and emotional health requirements. What started as a quest for spaces dedicated to prayer expanded to include meditation and overall wellness.
“Maureen Perry and the Wellness Committee were vital in the beginning to note the need for this type of space and start conversations, and many others have also contributed to keeping this moving along, including some of the staff that have been using it since it opened to enhance what it can offer. It’s turned into a real oasis within the library and college," said DeBose.
Designated areas for mental breaks crucial for students' health.
Jacque Pelzer, associate professor and assistant dean of Student Affairs, highlighted the significance of providing private spaces. "We realized the importance of providing not just touchdown spaces but quiet areas for prayer or where they can just take that 15-minute mental break,” Pelzer said. “It's great that we have it embedded within the college environment."
Acknowledging the need for dedicated virtual healthcare and wellness spaces, DeBose added: "We recognized that many students and staff, residents and interns lack personal office spaces. We don't want them trying to have an appointment for telehealth with a laptop or phone balanced on the steering wheel of their car. Having a designated space close by would be much better."
Repurposed from little-used books, the pod features privacy panels, natural light, and amenities.
DeBose wants the library to be a space that reflects the current and evolving needs of the whole college community. Repurposing it away from storing little-used books on dusty shelves to an alternative use that supports the college in a new way matched her desire.
The new space optimally utilizes the library's resources, repurposing approximately 1,100 titles that hadn't been used or taken out since 2005 to make room for the wellness room. The room features frosted glass panels for privacy, natural light, and amenities such as resistance bands for light exercise and yoga poses. Its location within the library also facilitates easy reservations and bookings. The space is available in 15-minute increments.
Pelzer emphasized the importance of designated spaces for mental breaks. "Having designated areas within the college where students can take a 15-minute mental break is essential,” Pelzer said. “It allows them to recharge and walk away from the academic pressure they might be experiencing."
DeBose said she would like to further enhance the facilities by adding sleeping pods to accommodate individuals needing rest and rejuvenation while maintaining ample study space within the library.
Students appreciate the investment in their wellbeing.
A recent 2022 U.S. Workplace Survey by the Gensler Research Institute supports providing quiet spaces that "positively impact individual employee wellbeing" and promotes high-performing workplaces.
"Workplaces which are both effective and offer a great experience offer a range of work settings from quiet zones and focus rooms to innovation hubs and maker spaces," the survey states.
Many of these critical spaces will be included in the proposed expansion of the Small Animal Teaching Hospital.
"I've gotten a few emails from students just thanking us for investing in this space. They see that as an investment in them, quite honestly, and their wellbeing," said Pelzer.