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Counseling Services Partners with Graduate College to Create the GradWell Initiative

GradWell Logo that says "GradWell: Be Well to do Well"

University Health Services’ Counseling Services has partnered with the Boise State Graduate College to create the GradWell: Be Well to Do Well initiative. The initiative aims to improve wellness and mental health for graduate students by creating a healthy, productive, dynamic and successful learning environment.

The need for such an initiative is evident as graduate students report symptoms of depression and related anxiety more often than the general population. Graduate students additionally face difficulties with isolation, work/life balance, and competitiveness. Students of all kinds typically have concerns about seeking help for their mental health and may be less likely to discuss their concerns with peers, colleagues, and faculty.

The initiative is dedicated to building a culture of well-being in order to foster success in academics and beyond. GradWell strives to enhance graduate student holistic growth, productivity, connectedness, innovation, and retention by providing wellness education, departmental and peer support, access to resources and programming that ensures graduate students can be well to do well.

“Through this initiative we plan to collectively acknowledge that graduate school is stressful and often threatens a person’s mental health,” said Matt Niece, director of Counseling Services at University Health Services. “We want to open the door to conversations about the importance of self-care, specific actions to promote mental health and wellness, and destigmatize asking for help. We want faculty and staff across the college to understand their role as key players in their students mental health and wellness, and at the end of the day have a collective understanding that in order for students to do their absolute best, they have to feel supported, acknowledged, appreciated, balanced, and well.”    

GradWell addresses three main areas:

  • Knowledge – increase the understanding of the topic mental health and wellness.
  • Personal Awareness – increase awareness of personal attitudes and beliefs about the topic of wellness.
  • Skill – increase efficacy when addressing wellness, either proactively or remedially.

GradWell will work towards these objectives by first training faculty, staff, and program coordinators who work with graduate students on Boundaries and Self Care, which addresses how to set boundaries and how to promote/support boundary setting and self care with students, provide more information and resources related to mental health and wellness to graduate students via syllabi and handbooks and create graduate student-specific weblinks for wellness resources.  

“Graduate school can be difficult, not only because of coursework, but many students also have additional work obligations and family responsibilities,” said Tammi Vacha-Haase, dean of the Graduate College. “Maintaining work-life balance can feel almost impossible, and it is not uncommon for graduate students to experience feelings of being overwhelmed, isolated, or suffer from symptoms of anxiety and depression. GradWell is a collaborative initiative focused on graduate students’ overall well being. Our hope is to help increase awareness, encourage discussions, and offer additional mental health services for graduate students.”

“It is true—graduate school can take a toll on one’s mental health. But here at Boise State, we are hoping to provide a culture to one of recognition and support for mental health. ‘Be well to do well’ identifies that our graduate students will be able to be much more successful during their time here and have a better experience if attention is given to overall well being,” added Vacha-Haase.

The initiative goes hand-in-hand with campus-wide initiative BroncoFit which works to facilitate learning through wellness programs and courses to help students build a road map to create lifelong health. Both initiatives aim to create America’s healthiest learning environment by encouraging Boise State students, faculty and staff to engage in all aspects of health and well-being

Learn more about GradWell and resources offered for students, faculty, and staff.