Divesity, Inclusion, & AccessABILITY

Continued resilience during the pandemic

The global pandemic continues creating restrictions in education and availability of on-campus resources, but the Health & Wellness office at the Arizona Western College Yuma campus continues assisting students despite such difficult circumstances.

Over the past year, the Health & Wellness office (H&W) has been focused on ensuring the safety of students and staff through issuing mask mandates, enforcing social distancing and hosting frequent virtual events dedicated to assisting students with and informing them about various critical issues.

In response to the pandemic, H&W partnered with the AWC Yuma campus’ residence halls, Student Life resources and Campus Police to conduct emergency response team meetings.  As a result, the team has developed a method of communication where students are able to reach out to H&W and report their symptoms or positive COVID-19 results.

Students have then been asked to self-isolate and get tested.  Classmates and staff who may have been previously in contact with the student have been notified about their possible exposure to ensure their safety.

Although public safety and overall attempts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 share great importance to H&W, the office’s services also provide additional personal support for students.

Student Health & Wellness Coordinator Christine Rouff, along with Student Counseling Professional Claudia Orozco, have been offering their services virtually to students who may be struggling with mental-health issues or concerns.

“In addition to keeping students safe, we try to assess mental health concerns as well,” Rouff says.

If a student reports feeling disconnected, struggling with depression or other mental health concerns, the H&W office helps that person by providing counseling and connecting them with available resources on campus, and even with mental health resources out in the community.

“It is not just the one-faceted safety measure of COVID,” Rouff says.  “It’s trying to help them manage all of these other complications as a result of COVID.”

Each month, the Health & Wellness office selects a theme that focuses on the wellbeing of students, along with other themes that pertain to discrimination commonly seen in a workplace or school setting.

“We try to advocate for health on both sides of the spectrum through these monthly themes,” Rouff says.

Along with monthly events, H&W has been offering stress-management and self-care workshops to remind people to give priority to their mental health.  The office is also planning on potentially bringing a dynamic speaker in April (Drug & Alcohol Awareness & Sexual Assault month) to both raise awareness and address any concerns regarding sexual assault.

Not only can students take part in these events, but they can also become a member of the Student Health Advocates Club (SHA), where they can become active participants of the campus community.  The club provides students with a great opportunity to “get to know their peers and become advocates by helping spread the word about the importance of student health and wellness,” Rouff says.

SHA club members also have the opportunity to gain useful experience with public speaking while building a unique resume and having access to potential letters of recommendation from the club’s advisors.

As the community continues pushing forward through the difficulties imposed by the pandemic, Rouff encourages students who may be struggling with personal issues to reach out to family and friends while keeping in mind that the Health & Wellness office is always there as an additional resource they can rely on.

“We continuously fight the stigma of mental health,” Rouff says.  “To anyone that is struggling, know that it is normal, and you are not alone.  It is okay to need help sometimes.”

The Health & Wellness office is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students are welcome to contact Health & Wellness Coordinator Christine Rouff or Student Counseling Professional Claudia Orozco through email or by phone for any questions, concerns or requests for appointments.

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