Wellness lounge

The Wellness Lounge on campus offers resources and space to help students to relax. The lounge, located in Pat Walker Health Center, had its grand opening earlier this month. 

With cabinets full of journals, puzzles, aromatherapy dough and a fully-stocked fridge of snacks, the new Wellness Lounge is open to all students on campus.

University Recreation officials hosted a grand opening April 5 for the new lounge, which is located on the second floor of Pat Walker Health Center and offers free wellness activities and other resources.

In providing these activities and snacks, UA assistant director of fitness and wellness Casey Fant said she hopes groups utilize this space to take a pause and be mindful about how they are doing — outside of their studies.

“Because students have their focus so heavily on academics,” Fant said, “I think sometimes they don't realize that the campus is concerned about them as a human being and helping them build skills that will allow them to go out and be successful as an overall person.”

While there are other study spaces or resource hubs on campus, Fant said what sets the Wellness Lounge apart is that it aims to help students navigate all wellness needs, from financial to emotional.

Freshman Kayla York said she is glad university officials are providing a place for students, including herself, to relax and create healthier habits. As a wellness specialist for Alpha Delta Pi, she promotes overall wellness in the chapter, so the lounge can be a positive space to utilize.

The lounge provides accessible resources for mental health on campus, including UARK Wellness’ peer educator program.

Peer educators are students who create and share presentations on wellness topics such as 8 Dimensions of Wellness, Mindfulness & Self Care, and Academic Struggles & Burnout. The UA Wellness website offers a presentation request form.

“Self care isn’t just getting a massage or taking a bubble bath,” Fant said. “It's being able to tune into yourself and understand why you're responding to certain situations that you are in or realizing that you can set boundaries. We're essentially here as an adjunct education piece.”

These students also run the Wellness Hut, a small pop-up gazebo where the peer mentors offer wellness support and give out various mental health-related merchandise. Often located in the Union Mall, the Wellness Hut is open multiple days each month.

Gabby Sandoval, a social work graduate student, oversees the peer educators and said it has been rewarding to work with these students and see the program grow in its first year.

However, she said having a physical location dedicated to mental health and decompressing is a necessary step in supporting student welfare.

“Wellness has a bit of an unknown presence on campus,” Sandoval said. “We’re tucked away in this corner of Pat Walker, so we’ve really been trying with the opening of the wellness Lounge. Now we have this really cool space for people to stop by and chat with us.”

Sandoval said she is also a wellness coach, which is a one-on-one program that UARK Wellness offers for students. These sessions are goal-oriented and have a similar structure to psychological counseling, she said.

While they do not dig into heavy subjects, the coaches collaborate with students to create feasible solutions for wellness obstacles they identify in their lives, Sandoval said. The wellness coach offices are located directly behind the new lounge, so she hopes this easy access will bridge a connection for students to feel comfortable asking for help.

“Currently being a student, I understand the student experience,” Sandoval said. “It helps me recommend things that either I've tried to do or that I've seen (work for) other people that I know.”

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