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Well-being Navigation Program guides students to health and wellness resources

Student Affairs is launching a Well-being Navigation Program in fall 2024 to provide personalized guidance, coping strategies, health education, and referrals to both on- and off-campus resources at no cost. The program, funded by the Communities That Care grant, will enhance health literacy by directing students to relevant health and wellness resources, encouraging them to take an active role in managing their well-being journey.

“Navigating health and well-being should not be a burden for college students,” said Dr. Sherrá Watkins, associate vice president for student health and wellness. “We know each student is unique and may require different services at different stages of their health and wellness journey. Through the Well-being Navigation Program, we aim to empower students to take agency in their healing process and select what best suits their individual needs.”

The term “well-being navigation” is commonly used in healthcare systems, educational institutions and community organizations. It refers to a support system or program designed to assist individuals in navigating and accessing well-being resources. Well-being navigation coordinators often provide guidance, information, and support to help individuals make informed decisions about their health, connect with appropriate services, and overcome any barriers they may face in accessing care.

After observing the positive results in other health and wellness services utilizing the peer-support model, the program will introduce peer navigators to support and engage with students. The peer navigators will undergo comprehensive training covering various essential topics such as confidentiality, resource navigation, interpersonal communication, health literacy, empathy, motivational interviewing, and mental health. The trainings are designed to instill confidence in peer navigators as they establish relationships and connections with students. Additionally, Katie Atkinson, well-being navigation coordinator, will supervise the peer navigators and conduct regular evaluations to ensure the quality of support provided to students.

Once connected with a peer navigator, students will undergo a basic intake session, during which the navigator will utilize a coaching model to assess their current situation and make recommendations based on their needs. Navigators will be experts in providing health and wellness information, aiming to help students understand health and wellness from a holistic perspective, including stress management, sleep hygiene, emotional health, and mental health.

The peer navigator will then follow-up with each student at least twice to check on their well-being and track progress. While students are welcome to reach out as many times as needed, navigators guarantee a minimum of two follow-up sessions to ensure students are engaged with services.

Peer navigators will also specialize in providing a continuum of care for students admitted to the hospital due to a mental health crisis. “Continuum of care” is a term used in the healthcare system to link patients transitioning from hospital settings to aftercare services. Through this program, students being discharged from Huntsman Mental Health Institute or the U of U Health emergency room have the option of being referred to a peer navigator, who will provide support to reintegrate into campus life.

For more information on the program, contact Katie Atkinson, well-being navigation coordinator, at