Student receiving a back massage.
Whether it's talking to a therapist, joining a student organization focused on wellness, or simply taking a break, VCU has a variety of resources to help students practice self-care in a way that fits their needs. (Julia Rendleman, University Marketing)

Taking care of yourself has never been more important for college students. Here are some resources to help.

From group exercise to counseling services, VCU offers a variety of wellness tools and support.

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You bought your books, paid your fees and created a class, work and study schedule. Everything is in place for you to take on your academic workload this semester at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

But along with storage containers, toiletries and emergency middle-of-the-night snacks, students should also make sure to be familiar with the many wellness resources at VCU that can help them adjust to challenges and address any mental health issues that arise.

The past few semesters have posed added challenges for students because of the pandemic’s impact on studying, socializing and living conditions. Leaders from the VCU student organization Active Minds — formed to bring attention to mental health challenges many young people face in college — shared some top issues students face.

“From my perspective as a resident assistant, life in college is hard to process all at once,” said Shreya Patel, an interdisciplinary science major who is co-public relations chair in Active Minds. “That’s why Active Minds tries to focus on breaks and helping students discover new things about themselves, to have an environment where you can face those challenges and grow.”

Many students feel disconnected, especially during COVID-19, said Ailysh Motsinger, a psychology major and Active Minds education co-chair. 

“A lot of people are in isolation, whether that be because they’re at a higher risk, they contracted the virus or just because of their living situation,” Motsinger said. “Feeling connected is really an important part of maintaining your mental health. It’s also a part of practicing wellness.”

Aanchal Dubey, a biology major and co-public relations chair of Active Minds, said many students feel anxiety and stress about classes, work and commitments. 

“They’re overwhelmed by everything they need to do, everything they signed up for, including the academic load and extra-curriculars. I’ve seen that especially for Honors College students. Trying to get that balance is what a lot of people struggle with,” Dubey said.

Difficulty making priorities is another common problem.

“It’s easy to say yes to everyone and say yes to everything,” said Veronica Wong, a biology major and Active Minds education co-chair. “It’s important to understand that it’s not possible. It’s important to put yourself first. It’s OK to take breaks, to take less credits and to stop doing some extra-curriculars to get yourself back on track. That’s something I think a lot of students struggle with.”

Patel, Motsinger, Dubey and Wong all are Honors College students and appreciate the unique community and shared experiences they gain from that program. But there also are countless opportunities for any student at VCU to make connections with fellow students, get involved, find support and take advantage of resources to keep them healthy in every sense of the word.

Resources to rely on 

Below is a selection of resources that VCU students should consider keeping in their wellness toolkits.

  • Keep On Being Well: This website, developed by the Division of Student Affairs, provides a comprehensive collection of resources for physical well-being, coping, making connections on campus and more.
  • You@VCU: Recently launched, this free and confidential web portal lets students assess and improve their health, sense of purpose and life trajectory. Once you log in, you can create a profile and take one of three “Reality Checks” that lead to content like tips, videos and quizzes catered to your needs and interests. 
  • RecWell:VCU Recreation and Well-Being (RecWell) has resources to explore your physical and social wellbeing as well as assistance to help boost mental health and become more mindful. Other resources include weekly guided meditation sessions and staff members who can listen to students who just want to talk.
  • RecWell’s Resilience Lab: This program offers both guided meditation and appointments (in person or online) where students can discuss managing stress.
  • Group exercise classes: Through RecWell’s portal, sign up for a yoga classfor the physical and psychosocial skills related to the practice. Switch up the intensity with a variety of sessions from high intensity interval training to cycle express.
  • University Counseling Services: Students can turn to the professionals at University Counseling Services for free individual, relationship and group therapy, as well as a 24-hour crisis line. It also facilitates support groups to provide support networks for coping.
  • University Student Health Services: Part doctor’s office, part pharmacy, this is where students can go for quality medical care on campus, as well as vaccines, prescriptions, consultations with nutritionists and other services.
  • RamsConnect: To meet other students and get out of your dorm room, look into RamsConnect, VCU’s home for student orgs and events. There are several organizations dedicated to wellness, includingActive Minds, Golden Rams and Conquer the Stress.
  • Peer Health Education: If you’re interested in helping other students embrace health and wellness, consider joining this program. Members learn how to provide quality, well-informed, peer-led education on relevant health issues impacting student well-being and earn a national certification as a Certified Peer Educator 
  • Rams in Recovery: This program provides structured support for students in recovery from substance use disorders. Its Recovery Clubhouse is open to students who want to stop by for a cup of coffee or a place to study.
  • Residence hall communities: If you live on campus, VCU offers themed communities for both first-year and upperclass students, including wellness-focused “Live Well” for first years and “Recovery Housing” for upperclass students who want to commit to sober living.
  • StudyWell: VCU’s libraries are more than just academic hubs — they are social centers where students spend a lot of their time. In light of that, this fall VCU Libraries partnered with the divisions of Student Affairs and Strategic Enrollment Management and Student Success to launch StudyWell, a series of health and wellness events that continues this semester with weekly yoga sessions and workshops on topics like sleeping regular hours and building healthy relationships.