California State University, Long Beach
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Active Minds Healthy Campus Award

Published: September 6, 2016

CSULB was announced as a winner of the 2016 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award and recognized as one of the healthiest college campuses in the nation. The prestigious award celebrates U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate excellence in prioritizing and promoting the health and well-being of their students.

“The health and wellness of our entire campus community is a priority of mine,” said CSULB President Jane Close Conoley. “Good physical and mental health is essential to student success, which is why we support a variety of programs that directly affect health and wellness. Winning the Active Minds Healthy Campus Award validates our commitment to this important mission.”

Students enrolled at schools that focus on health often find that the programs and services offered there are life changing. “Looking at me now, you would probably never know I used to be homeless,” said Shellv Candler, a history major. “My freshman year, I told a faculty member about my living situation and she referred me to the Student Emergency Intervention Program. Before, I would skip lunch so I had enough money to buy dinner for my mom and me. The program placed meals on my student ID card and helped me move from an emergency shelter. When I graduate, my goal is to become a teacher. I want to inspire youth to achieve their full potential and help young people like CSULB helped me.”

The Healthy Campus Award, now in its second year, involves an extensive application process as well as multiple endorsements and interviews. Each applicant is assessed across eight criteria, with winners chosen by a panel of prominent researchers and health and higher education experts.

“CSULB stands out because it invests in students’ physical and mental health on a comprehensive scale and for the long term,” says Alison Malmon, executive director and founder of Active Minds, the national nonprofit that presents the Healthy Campus Award as part of its commitment to student wellness. “CSULB is a model of what’s possible when a college prioritizes a campus culture of health, safety and well-being.”

CSULB joins five other colleges and universities in receiving the Heathy Campus Award: Jefferson College in Missouri; Lawrence University in Wisconsin; Sacramento State University; School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ohio State University is also recognized as an honorable mention recipient.

This year’s recipients present a range of campuses – from small liberal arts colleges to major research universities – that operate within widely different contexts and challenges. Together they demonstrate how institutions of all types and sizes can create healthy communities that allow every student the opportunity to thrive.

One of 23 campuses in the California State University system, CSULB is a school of more than 37,000 students, with underrepresented minority students accounting for 41 percent of the student body. More than 50 percent of students are first-generation college students and identify as coming from low-income families, and 75 percent are employed while attending school. Student well-being is a priority for the university and it shows.

The review panel for the Healthy Campus Award cited the following innovative practices in particular:

Campus-Wide Commitment to At-Risk Students: CSULB developed a Student Emergency Intervention and Wellness program to identify and immediately serve students in times of crisis. Initiated in 2015, departments from throughout the university collaborate to help students meet their most basic needs for health and well-being. Students who are food-insecure or homeless, for example, receive meals, temporary emergency housing and emergency funds, as well as counseling so they can continue with their academic studies and persist to graduation. “Wellness” is now incorporated into the program as the campus expands student services for food and housing security, which include an ASI Food Pantry, a Beach mobile application as well as upcoming Cal Fresh outreach.

Outreach to Special Populations: The university’s LIFE Project is a rare example of a comprehensive, personalized resource for campus students with autism. An eight-week program for students traumatized by sexual assault or domestic violence offers yoga, meditation and discussions to help students rebuild their connection to their bodies and develop a sense of self-trust and resilience. The university also allows emotional support animals to live in residence halls with students who need them and a financial health course is available for students who are least likely to have had access to such information growing up.

Student Addiction Recovery Program: The university makes available a comprehensive program for students seeking recovery from addiction. Participating students are supported in their decision and have access to academic and health advisors to improve their scholastic and life skills.

Exercise as Medicine: CSULB was recently recognized by the American College of Sports Medicine for the way the university assesses exercise as a routine vital sign during visits to the health center by students, faculty and staff. Clinicians provide individual counseling regarding the importance of exercise as it relates to overall health.

The Healthy Campus Award is made possible through the generous support of the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation. Additional resources are available from Active Minds, including photos and a downloadable summary called “Key Findings from the Nation’s Healthiest Campuses” can be seen on the Active Minds website.