By Len La Rocca
Located in the Recreation Center, The Recovery and Wellness Suite had its grand opening on Sept. 18 in an effort to expand the College’s range of student wellness.
Mark Forest, the assistant vice president for Health and Wellness and the director of Mental Health Services, has a vision for the new wellness suite to be one stop for all kinds of recovery.
“We really want it to become sort of a centralized hub for students to be able to come hang out, get information (and) resources,” Forest said. “We are broadening … the definition of recovery to include mental health, drug and alcohol, physical kind of ailments and so forth — virtually anyone who is recovering from something.”
According to Forest, students going through any sort of trauma will be able to seek refuge in the new suite — a safe haven for recovery. The suite includes couches and pictures of nature.
“It’s kind of a centralized space for a lot of the health and wellness programs. We never really had our own space to do that,” Forest said. “We had to find space somewhere on campus and … space is at a premium here. So we are thrilled to actually have our own space.”
The space used for the suite was once airspace for a racquetball room. Instead of the clamor of a fierce racquetball session, soothing ideas on how best to help students in recovery will reverberate between minds dedicated to creating healthy lifestyles.
The suite has three parts: a main seminar area, a physician’s check-up room and a lounge for the Collegiate Recovery Program.
The main seminar room will hold several interactive events throughout the week, such as a brown-bag lunch seminar to discuss mental health. These seminars will be held on Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m.
The College’s own suicide hotline, in collaboration with Mercer CONTACT, will operate out of the suite as well. Over 30 students have already started training and the program will be offered every semester.
“Once they’re done, they will volunteer for four-hour shifts and they will man the phones,” Forest said.
In between the main seminar area and the CRC lounge will be offices where recreation and wellness staff members will work.
This expansion on mental health procedures is from a New Jersey state grant valued at close to $1 million, according to Forest.
“I’m really glad to see that they’ve gotten this recent grant that let them (build) these offices,” said Alex Holzman, the administrative assistant in the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The suite is only the beginning for the new hub for mental health recovery on campus.
“We are going to be all kinds of different events and programming so keep your eyes and ears open,” Forest said.