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The rise of the Chief Health Officer on campus

The chief wellness officer role is expanding at institutions across the nation, propelled in part by the pandemic's spotlight on mental health

In an effort to improve the well-being of the population and create new resources to support students and faculty, the University of West Georgia has established its first position as Director General of Health.

As Chief Health Officer Bridget Stewart ’03, Director of the Wolf Wellness Lab UWG and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Institutes of Health, will work on the National Institute of Health’s six dimensions of well-being – emotional, professional, physical, social, intellectual and spiritual. and her team develop UWG community-oriented policies, programs, and support.

“Health was something we focused on in the higher departments, but it was usually in our pockets,” Stewart said. “We had services, but we never had a collective culture. Whenever you really want to change a culture, you can’t do it on your own. You can’t make the best use of your resources if you have different groups that essentially offer the same type of programming but don’t talk. ”

Creating and implementing a health structure in the institution is one aspect of the university strategic plan.

Administrative support has been crucial in developing the role of Chief Health Officer, and UWG President Brendan B. Kelly appreciates the importance of health in the university community.

“One of our greatest feats is having an administrator of this level,” Stewart said. «[To have] your university president, your vice-rector, your vice president of student affairs, everyone understands that content, progression and graduation are great, but we have students who can’t feed themselves because they don’t have food. We have students who don’t know where to live. Students who do not know how to manage stress or high levels of anxiety. This means that retention, progression and completion do not move forward. “

The positions of Chief Health Officer are rapidly spreading across campuses, especially after COVID-19 focused on the importance of mental health and well-being.

Laura Asione
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