Wave of Support program aims to promote wellness

Chase Stenberg, Contributing Writer

Tulane University’s new Wave of Support initiative is aiming to promote wellness on campus. (Courtesy of Wave of Support)

The lasting mental health effects of isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic still linger among college students nationwide as the country begins to move on from the pandemic’s harsh toll of over one million U.S. deaths. 

But a new Tulane University initiative is aiming to revive pandemic-weary students. 

The program, called Wave of Support, debuted this fall with a goal “to empower students to define their own wellness and feel more confident in supporting one another’s mental health,” Samantha Bruce, program director for Wave of Support, said. 

The program aims to combine all existing campus support groups into one platform, making it easier for students to access. Bruce outlined eight types of wellness that serve as the foundation “to foster self-care, empathy, balance, and mindfulness across campus.” Those include physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, environmental and financial wellness.  

This spring, the group is also working to launch a chapter of Active Minds, a nationwide nonprofit that supports mental health awareness.

New Orleans has long been called resilient, and last year at Tulane, students faced a double threat: a pandemic and Hurricane Ida. Students completed virtual courses in the weeks after the storm, and this fall endured worries of more hurricanes. 

Bruce said she hopes to avoid the “work hard, play hard narrative and burnout culture” at Tulane and said Wave of Support is “a step in the right direction.” 

Some students are still recovering from the pandemic’s impact. Sophomore Anna Cay Vernon said that upon arriving freshman year she felt overwhelmed on a busy campus after isolating during the height of the pandemic. 

“We had an overload of social stimuli because of the two-year isolation, which probably had its domino effect of various health concerns in terms of going crazy, not necessarily taking care of ourselves or having a work-life student balance,” Vernon said. “Our attention spans are a lot shorter now, in class and in person.”

During the outbreak of COVID-19, some restrictions felt harsh, students said, particularly for freshmen. 

“Tulane tried to bring people together but personally I wasn’t very involved in the Zoom activities they were planning,” junior Henry Harris said, adding that some guidelines felt strict, albeit necessary.  

Contact tracing sent Harris to quarantine at the Hyatt Hotel for a month. 

“That entire time in quarantine was isolating. I even had my friends and my guitar, but I still felt lonely,” Harris said. “I think maybe sitting around in a room for that long will degrade anyone’s mental health.”

Tulane offers services aimed at improving some of that stress. Success coaches are available to assist students through difficult times. Tulane offers Therapy Assistance Online, a platform with mental health education sessions and exercises. Starting in January, students can get massages every other Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in suite 105B of the Richardson Building. 

Wave of Support will also host Send Silence Packing, a suicide and mental health awareness event, Nov. 2 on the Berger Family Lawn. Bruce said staff members from the Counseling Center and Case Management and Victim Support Services will be onsite to offer support, and students who want to avoid the display should follow “alternative route” signs staff will place nearby. 

“We need empathy and understanding from our classmates, friends, professors and coworkers. We need more time for self-care and personal fulfillment,” Bruce said. “We need to know that asking for help is powerful and sometimes, resiliency just doesn’t cut it.”

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