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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘The ticket to the next level’: Wellness initiative shares strategies for campus and community

While suspenders are traditionally known for holding up pants, at Wichita State University, they’ve become a symbol of a community uplifting one another toward wellness.

Suspenders4Hope underscores WSU’s commitment to fostering a healthier and more supportive environment. The program aims to position WSU as a leader in promoting wellness, both on campus and in the community. 

Suspenders4Hope and HOPE services have teamed up to implement a new initiative designed to address community issues such as suicide prevention, substance misuse prevention, mental health awareness and stigma reduction. 

The initiative launch, which was presented on Oct. 11, outlined four key strategies to achieve this objective.

Key Strategies

University wellness executive steering committee

The goal of this new committee is to enhance, promote and celebrate wellness activities at the university. It will identify activities, gather input and host events for development. 

The WSU Strategic Enrollment Management program focuses on removing barriers for student success. Strategy 3.9 aims to foster a culture of wellness and belonging across the university that contributes to academic performance.

Current committee members include Larry Burks Sr. director of military and veteran services; Linnea GlenMaye, associate vice president of academic affairs; Sara Mata, executive director of Hispanic Serving Institution; Lainie Mazzullo-Hart, director of communication; Sarah Stephens Selmon, HOPE services project specialist; and Vicki Whisenhant, chief human resources officer. 

Jessica Provines, assistant vice president for wellness and chief psychologist, outlined the committee’s role.

“It’s going to be this committee’s job to help support and implement wellness activities that are taking place across campus,” Provines said. 

Health Outreach Prevention Education (HOPE) Services

The new HOPE program is a department that promotes population-based, primary prevention and community wellness efforts, including mental and physical health and wellness.

The HOPE services advisory board has four subcommittees designated to the prevention of sexual violence, substance abuse and suicide and promoting wellness. They serve various communities through collaborations with LGBTQ+ groups, first responders, military services, indigenous communities, older adults, schools, workplaces, faith communities and multiple language communities. 

Marci Young, the newly unveiled director of HOPE services, said she’s honored to work with many individuals throughout campus and the community. 

“The next step is for us as a university to embrace this as our wellness strategy,” Young said. “For everyone on campus to know what the suspenders mean, and that they associate those with helpful ways to connect with each other and to watch out for each other.” 

Student and staff mental health programming

The third strategy is coordinating mental health programming for students and staff through a comprehensive campus approach.

This strategy includes reviewing policies and procedures, identifying existing resources and encouraging campus leaders to host departmental installation workshops.

“We’re starting with a process of gathering information and input from our campus community, on what kinds of activities we’re currently engaging in, and what they would like to see,” Provines said. “We will be continuing to get feedback from our community and our campus to see how it grows and what kind of impact it’s having on our on our people.” 

Community outreach

To unite all sectors to address mental health, strategy four will focus on expanding the university’s Suspenders4Hope community outreach and the national campaign.

Young said the key to outreach is getting more advocates to build widespread awareness.

“And really, this is the ticket to the next level,” Young said. “With our leadership being even more engaged and vocal and talking about (and) supporting mental health.”

Young also noted the importance of simultaneously advocating for others and for oneself, something the new committee members will need to keep in mind as they navigate these new initiatives.

“When we’re talking about all of these areas, a lot of times (we) make it very abstract, but the fact is these skills are put to use, and they’re also meant to be used for us to care for ourselves,” Young said.

For more information about Suspenders4Hope or HOPE services, visit Suspenders4Hope.com or wichita.edu/hope respectively.

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About the Contributors
Isabel Ordoñez, Reporter
Isabel Ordoñez is a second-year news reporter for The Sunflower. Ordoñez is a transfer student from western Kansas. She's a senior at Wichita State majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism and media production. Ordoñez is pursuing a career in the field of mass communications. She uses she/her pronouns.
Mel Bright, Former reporter
Mel Bright was a reporter and photographer for The Sunflower. When Bright is not in school, they loves to dance, act and they do photography on the side for fun. Bright uses they/them pronouns.

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