to Support Student Well-Being, BU Appoints Carrie Landa to New Position | BU today

With growing concern over the emotional and social well-being of students amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Boston University this week announced a decision that it hopes will bring further relief. Jean Morrison, president of the university and director of studies, announced on Monday the promotion of Carrie Landa, director of behavioral medicine and associate director of student health services, to the position of executive director of student well-being.

Landa will lead university-wide collaborative efforts to support student well-being in all dimensions – emotional, social, physical, professional – by bringing together existing resources and developing new programs and programs. Its mission is to help students develop the tools they need to thrive and succeed as engaged members of the campus community.

“The lingering effects of the pandemic and the challenges it has posed for many to reconnect with life on campus have only reinforced how essential these services are to promoting student well-being and supporting student success. at BU, “said Morrison’s announcement.

Landa will report directly to Patricia O’Brien, Vice President and Associate Vice President for Budgeting and Planning. BU today spoke with Landa about her mission to support student well-being, how the pandemic and social media, among other factors, have exacerbated student loneliness and the importance of belonging and community .


With Carrie Landa

BU today: Can you tell us about your new position and your goals?

Carrie Landa: It’s about how we engage students in all the different facets of well-being: emotional, social, physical, environmental and professional well-being. The words wellness and wellness are used interchangeably. I like the word wellness because it’s about being — being is a state that we are in as human beings. We are not human actions. I think my undergraduate psychology professor said my freshman year in college and it hit me and always reminds me of how much we need to take a break and figure out what makes us feel good.

There are different ways of cultivating the things in our life that make us feel good. And those things that do us good allow us to be better at the things we have to do, like our professional space, our intellectual space. The intention behind this new initiative is to centralize and streamline the way we promote it on our campus, both through programming and the new curriculum. The hope is that by centralizing resources and programs, students will see that there is in fact a lot more at the institution that they can benefit from than they realize.

It is a multi-pronged approach to health and wellness. Part of it is teaching students the skills they need to thrive and thrive and incorporating some of them into the curriculum. The other part builds on the success of the Wellbeing Project, a wellness initiative launched by BU in 2019 on the recommendation of the University Mental Health Task Force, which I co-chaired with Katharine Mooney. [SPH’12], the director of wellness and prevention services.

Many of the skills we are talking about go beyond being in college. I think this is also an important element. When you step out into the world, whether you are an executive, lawyer, writer, musician, or doctor, you need these skills.

BU today: Have the students changed? Have their problems changed?

Carrie Landa: I have been in college health for 20 years. It’s very different from what it was five years ago. I am not a sociologist, I cannot say what he did. I think a lot of things contribute to it. I think social networks have a role. I think the world we live in has a role. Today, people have such different ways of talking. Everything has changed, but does that mean our skills have caught up with that? We have such a different competitive landscape. Students pay $ 80,000 a year to go to college, and they fear they will not come out top of their class and find a job. All of these things contribute in different ways.

There is this huge generational deficit. It is not the fault of the students. It is simply the nature of the world in which we live. Students and young adults don’t get the same skills that I – and I’m in my 40s – learned when I was in college or traveling and didn’t have a cell phone handy . These students have other skills that take us out of the water, but some of the foundational skills that we really need to thrive can be enhanced.

BU today: Can you tell us more about specific skills that you think can be enhanced?

Carrie Landa: Communication skills are really important – how to hold a speech and a conversation when there is a difference of opinion. How to have self-compassion and a little more self-esteem, which is so difficult when we live in this world where you compare yourself to everyone on social media.

The hope is that we’re going to work with schools and colleges, both undergraduate and graduate, to build some of these things into the curriculum. For an engineering student who knows how to do computer science or math, being able to handle interactions with other people that are going to be difficult, or dealing with setbacks and setbacks, is just as important. It’s about knowing how to have a growth mindset.

BU today: What is a growth mindset?

Carrie Landa: The growth mindset is when you can look at something – an interaction or an opportunity – that hasn’t gone the way you wanted it to be, whether it’s a failure or less than perfect in your mind, and that you always get something out of it. You always recognize that there was value in what you learned.

So when we are talking about doing an experiment and the data comes in and it doesn’t support your hypothesis, it is just as important as when your hypothesis is supported because it always gives you important information. When someone gives you feedback on something that might not be as positive as it could be, but tells you where you can grow or where you can make changes to be better – how can we view this as something positive versus something that makes us feel like a failure or it undoes us?

The whole idea here is to support the students and hopefully by doing all of this work with a prevention lens we teach the students how to avoid dealing with these issues, whether it’s social anxiety or of failing an exam, that sort of defeats them. These skills teach students how to handle things in a more positive way.

BU today: What about loneliness? We keep hearing that students struggle with loneliness, all the more so now because of the pandemic and the isolation that comes with social distancing.

Carrie Landa: I think social media exacerbates this feeling. Having a million friends and followers is not the same as having really close people in your life. The pandemic blew up that opening in a different way. Because now we are not only emotionally disconnected from people, we are also physically disconnected. And now that we’re back, we’ve got some masks that don’t let you see that sweet smile from the person you might be sitting next to in class.

BU today: In what ways can students feel connected?

Carrie Landa: I think University offers great opportunities to get involved, but I think it’s overwhelming and intimidating to come out because we’ve all been so sequestered over the past year. We are a bit lacking in practice. Find one thing to make yourself known, whether it’s talking with someone in class, finding someone to go to the dining hall with or study with, joining a club, or contacting your resident advisor or someone else. Find out how to get involved in your student affairs department – is a very good first step.

BU today: Did this new position and the emphasis on well-being stem from the pandemic?

Carrie Landa: No. But I think the pandemic has underscored the need for it. Part of that is about self-care and having things in life that you are passionate about and that fuel you because you can’t do the things that are difficult if you don’t feel fueled on the other side. . How can we encourage students to find these spaces on campus and in their community?

I think part of that is because the students don’t necessarily think, “Oh, volunteering to clean up the Charles this weekend, that promotes my well-being.” But we want to help them understand how that promotes wellness.

BU today: What are some of the things that contribute to your own sense of well-being?

Carrie Landa: Being around people I love and feeling connected to my friends and family is really important. Traveling and seeing other places really inspires me. I love to cook and I love to do things that I am passionate about. This is why it is so exciting for me. As a psychologist, I care about how people feel. Yes, the job that people get out of college is really important. But you can get a great job and still be miserable. It is not to win.

I feel like as a clinician this idea that everything has become a mental health issue and that everyone needs clinical intervention is wrong, because I think there is so much more that can help make a person feel good. Community is one of the most important parts, having a sense of belonging is one of the most important parts.

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