Queen’s releases new Campus Wellbeing Framework

Framework looks at community wellness during the age of COVID-19.

Image by: Daniel Green
New framework accounts for special COVID-19 circumstances.

Wellbeing is a critical factor in the success of individuals, the community, and the University, according to Queen’s new Campus Wellbeing Framework.

The Campus Wellbeing Framework is the product of six months of consultations with 1,800 students, staff, and faculty at Queen’s in 2019-20 to advance wellbeing on campus. The framework outlines a set of guiding principles and priority focus areas to make Queen’s a better place to live, learn, and work for everyone in the community.

While a draft of the framework was released in February, the Queen’s community also had the opportunity to provide specific feedback about campus wellness during COVID-19 over the spring and summer to be incorporated into the final document with adjustments for social distancing guidelines.

At its centre, the framework emphasizes that “campus wellbeing is rooted in a culture of care, inclusion and respect, social connectedness.”

The framework was developed by the Provost Advisory Committee made up of student leaders, faculty, senior administrators, and community health experts; supported by the Campus Wellness Council; and endorsed by the University’s Senior Leadership Team.

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It’s centered around the Okanagan Charter, which is designed to “create a culture of compassion, wellbeing, equity, social justice […] and strengthen the ecological, social and economic sustainability of our communities and wider society.” Queen’s adopted the charter in January 2019.

Importantly, the framework is meant to enable and inspire wellness on campus without being prescriptive. The Queen’s community is encouraged to apply the guiding principles and priority focus areas outlined in the document as appropriate, but they’re designed to be adapted across diverse situations and settings.

The framework also positions campus wellbeing as a community effort, instead of as an individual task.

“Each of us has a role and responsibility to enhance and embrace a culture of wellbeing, care and inclusion, respecting diversity and embracing our differences.”

The framework puts forward four focus areas for enhancing wellbeing in the Queen’s community: culture, social connection, personal wellbeing, and places.

Culture refers to creating an inclusive culture at Queen’s that values wellbeing.

“Each member of the Queen’s community has a responsibility to respect and advance the university values of care, equity, inclusion, and support with respect to diversities, including ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, exceptionality and socioeconomic status.”

The framework emphasizes that social connection is imperative to wellbeing because “[h]umans need social connection.”

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“We heard from the campus community that belonging is influenced by our identities and experiences and by perceptions of campus cultural relevance (including familiarity, knowledge and feelings of validation) and responsiveness (programs and practices).”

Maintaining personal wellbeing is essential to health and wellbeing. Although this is an individual task, the framework personal wellbeing should be facilitated and promoted within one’s community.

Having spaces online and in person that foster wellbeing is another important aspect of the framework.

“When we consider equity, inclusion, the presence of natural elements and opportunities for social connection in the design of our places, we can have a profound impact on our wellbeing.”

The recommendations encourage the community to facilitate and promote all aspects of personal health across a wide range of dimensions including physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, occupational, financial, and environmental health.

The framework also acknowledges the importance of equity, diversity, inclusivity, and indigeneity (EDII) as values imperative to fostering the wellbeing of all members of the Queen’s community.

“Together, we can encourage and support an inclusive culture of wellbeing that inspires and enables all who live, learn and work at Queen’s to thrive.”

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Covid-19, Mental health, Wellness

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