Students get voice in campus health conversation

by Maya Pontone / Beacon Staff • October 26, 2016

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Elise Harrison said the board will make health services more personal.
Beacon Archives
Elise Harrison said the board will make health services more personal.
Beacon Archives

Students will now have a voice in how the college deals with health issues, from sniffles to stress.

The Student Health Advisory Board—a collaboration between Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services, the Center for Health and Wellness, and the Disability Services Office—will serve as a forum where students can be involved in the improvement of health services and boost campus well-being.

According to SHAB’s informational handout, board members will provide the departments with feedback on topics relating to self-care and wellness programs, health advocacy, accessibility, and student insurance benefits.

“We are really excited to give students some agency in giving them a voice that directly advocates students’ concerns to the departments,” Diane Paxton, director of Disability Services and one of the four creators of the new board, said.

The departments previously determined student needs based on national data and surveys, Elise Harrison, director of ECAPS, said. She said SHAB will personalize Emerson’s health services so that it is more in line with students’ needs.

Harrison said that although the concept was developed over several years, the recent success of the Self Care Fair during freshman orientation and the Fresh Check Day on Oct. 13 indicated students’ interest in health and wellness. This realization spurred the board’s creation, she added.

This board is an opportunity for students interested in health advocacy to serve in leadership roles that will better Emerson’s health services, Paxton said. Right now, she said the departments are trying to make a strong effort to publicize this program in order to bring in student candidates.

This committee is open to all students interested in health and wellness, Assistant Director of CHW Laura Owen said, regardless of whether they regularly use the departments’ services or not.

The directors hope to have a diverse group of students serving on the SHAB in order to provide multiple perspectives that will help better the Emerson health community, CHW Director Jane Powers said.

They aim to recruit at least 10 students to voice the concerns of the Emerson community, according to their informational handout. Members will be expected to attend meetings on the third Thursday of each month beginning Dec. 15.

Applications for SHAB are due Friday, Oct. 28, and are available on the department websites.