Individual health is closely linked to community health, and community health is profoundly affected by the collective beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of individual community members (Healthy People, 2010). Likewise, on a college campus, employee and student wellness is reciprocally related to the wellness of the campus community. A healthy campus can increase educational and civic engagement in support of academic excellence and community service.
The University of Oregon recognizes that healthy faculty, staff, and students benefit the university and the State of Oregon. Student Affairs professionals have long understood the relationships between choices made during college, student physical and mental health, and academic achievement. Increasing overall student wellness can result in fewer class absences, improved retention and persistence, reduced utilization of physical and mental health-care services, more effective study practices, work productivity and academic success and the development of healthy living skills and habits for lifelong physical and mental vitality.
Benefits to the university workplace include decreased absenteeism, increased productivity, greater focus and concentration in the workplace, decreased turnover, reduced chronic illness and disease, fewer and less expensive disability claims, increased satisfaction and enjoyment, the development of healthy living skills and habits for lifelong physical and mentally vitality, and reduced utilization of the physical and mental health-care system leading to decreased health care costs (Sibson Consulting, 2008; WebMD, 2006).
The Healthy Campus Initiative is based on the belief that healthy students, faculty, and staff are more likely to achieve the ambitious goals set forth in campus strategic and academic plans. Through collaborative efforts across campus, the Healthy Campus Task Force hopes to create a culture in which the pursuit of a balanced lifestyle is valued, physical and mental health is fostered, and all members of the university community are encouraged to take responsibility for choosing to be well.