University administrators called for feedback on Yale’s new Health and Wellness website during two preview sessions hosted Tuesday afternoon.
The website, which has been under construction for roughly nine weeks, consolidates information about mental, physical and spiritual health and wellbeing services available at Yale and in New Haven. The site includes a mental health screening test, information about Yale’s policies and procedures and a crisis button on every page that directs students to information about emergency resources at Yale. At the preview session, Senior Administrative Assistant Elizabeth Quercia walked students through the site in its current design in order to gather feedback about any changes that students would like to see before the site is officially launched in the fall.
“This is a big endeavor for us and it will be iterative,” said University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews to the students, faculty and staff members in attendance. She explained that the site is only in its first phase and administrators will continually be looking for ways to improve.
The site is intended to cater to students with different wellness and health needs, from those who are at a crisis point to those struggling with exam stress.
According to Director of University Events Heather Calabrese, the development of the site was informed by meetings with students and reports on mental health and wellness created by the college and graduate and professional schools. Calabrese also noted that her office has been working closely with Director of Yale Health Paul Genecin and Chief Psychiatrist at Yale Health Lorraine Siggins to ensure that the new site mirrors and links directly to Yale Health’s Mental Health and Counseling website, which is also in the process of being revamped.
Though the developers of the site hope to make several aesthetic improvements, such as the inclusion of more images and a less formal page layout, in the coming months, the main objective of the site is to give students the information they need as quickly as possible, said Quercia. Thus, the standard Yale website template is being utilized for the time being.
“When we first started the project, we looked at peer institutions and thought UCLA had a really well designed dynamic website,” Quercia said. “That’s somewhere we aspire to be but for now, we are just trying to be responsive to students’ needs as quickly as possible.”
On the website’s homepage, a tab labeled “Mental Health & Counseling” links to information about Yale Health’s services and mental health issues in general. A free and completely anonymous screening test was included to help students decide whether or not they need clinical attention. This test can be taken by anyone, regardless of whether they are on the Yale Health plan or not, Calabrese said.
The site also contains information about all the wellness organizations available to students, including ones that are currently underutilized because they are not advertised very openly, such as a student-run positive thinking publication and various meditation centers in downtown New Haven.
During a meeting with Goff-Crews, Gregg Castellucci GRD ’17, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, explained that students in Yale’s graduate and professional schools often find it hard to figure out which resources are available for them and which are intended for undergraduates. He suggested a tool that could help students filter which services are the most relevant to them. This suggestion has since been incorporated into the website.
Quercia said this new function on the website enables users to filter for attributes such as the type of support they need and the part of the University the student is affiliated with. She added that while the site is intended for students, there is also a tab that provides information for faculty, staff and family members on how to support students who are dealing with mental health issues.
She emphasized that because students often look up to their professors as models of professional success, it is particularly important for professors to exhibit healthy wellness behaviors.
The site also features links to downloadable content, such as guided meditation apps. Furthermore, it will allow students to send feedback about the website when it goes live. Until then, on request, students can receive a link to the live website so that they can browse through it and offer suggestions on how it should be improved in time for fall 2015.
“We have done this creative design but we have no ownership of this,” Quercia said.
Each year, roughly 2,500 students use MH&C services at Yale Health.