By Emily Glory Peters
Mental health and wellness programming at Scripps may lack the fanfare of a new building or endowed scholarship, yet it’s one of the most popular giving areas of The Scripps Fund, the College’s main operational fund. That support has proven vital in 2020, helping to expand wellness resources for students navigating the emotional tumult of college life during the pandemic.
As the wellness hub for the Scripps community, the Sallie Tiernan Field House (TFH) has piloted many of these new resources. From the moment students left campus last spring, its team began to conceive novel ways to help students manage stress, prioritize self-care, and even find pleasure in their remote learning environment.
“Transitioning our in-person programs to virtual was new to us. The TFH staff actively collaborated with our student coordinators to develop a peer-to-peer web model that would resonate with Scripps students,” explained Associate Director of Tiernan Field House Lisette De La Trinidad-Alvarado. Offerings from the team have included live fitness classes hosted via Zoom; a new substance use-focused podcast, Intoxicating Conversations, presented by TFH student peer health educators; and a weekly e-newsletter packed with popular content such as Tasty Tuesday recipes, Destress Thursday activities, and Mindful Monday coping skills.
Adding to existing programs was key to maintaining a sense of normalcy for students, said Assistant Dean and Director of Tiernan Field House Deborah Gisvold—something the Field House has prioritized since the pandemic broke out. Connecting students with those resources was equally important. “By partnering with Scripps’ Office of Marketing and Communications to share our content on the College’s main social media platforms, we’ve noticed an influx of followers on our own,” she said. “Especially as we remain socially distanced, reaching a wider audience of students with wellness content is a huge win.”
Making Mental Health Support More Accessible
Complementing the self-care resources of the Field House, Scripps’ dean of students and student affairs teams have steadily expanded telehealth and counseling services this year. New for Scripps students is access to 7C Health, a no-cost service accessed through The Claremont Colleges that offers unlimited mental health and Teladoc services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Donor support has also been exceptionally impactful in helping Scripps students obtain mental health counseling.
“For students with demonstrated need, Scripps is now able to pay up to $75 per session for an unlimited number of sessions with their therapist of choice,” explained Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson. The College has also increased its referral pool in order to connect students to counselors who reflect the diversity of Scripps students’ backgrounds and clinical needs.
“For many students, this is their first time accessing help or their only way of getting help. We’re doing our best to make sure they’re well-matched with their mental health professionals,” Johnson said.
Additionally, donor gifts have helped fund a new residential rental assistance grant for students experiencing housing insecurity—another issue worsened by family job losses and shifting home environments brought on by COVID-19.
“No student can succeed personally or academically if they are unsure of whether they can keep a roof over their heads or where their next meal is coming from,” said Johnson. “While they may initially seem unrelated to mental health, grants like these underpin academic success by lifting significant emotional burdens from our students’ shoulders.”
The Role of the Scripps Community in Future Mental Health and Wellness Efforts
While the pandemic may have influenced the uptick in mental health and wellness resources for Scripps students, the teams at the Tiernan Field House and dean of students office recognize that this support isn’t merely situational, but integral to a positive Scripps experience. It’s a philosophy the Field House team believes the extended Scripps community shares with the College.
“Health and wellness are not just physical—there are mental and social elements, all of which impacts our students’ ability to do well at Scripps,” says Health and Wellness Coordinator Rebecca Dabbs. “When our community supports mental health and wellness initiatives at Scripps, they help us take a holistic approach to helping our students thrive not just academically, but as a whole person.”
As the College continues to adapt to the constant changes brought on by the pandemic, we strive to keep student wellness at the center of all we do. Please consider supporting mental health and wellness initiatives at Scripps by making a gift here.