The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has launched an online portal called You@UWM to connect students to resources promoting health, well-being, academic success and ways to reduce stress.
While the portal is particularly useful during these coronavirus times, it was actually in the works long before life changed to the new pandemic reality, according to Lori Bokowy, who is part of the work group developing the project. The portal was originally scheduled to launch in late April and be fully available in time for summer orientation and Fall Welcome.
“We’ve really truncated the timeline to get as much out to students as soon as possible,” said Bokowy, who is the emotional health coordinator in the Norris Health Center’s Office of Health Promotion.
The project is a joint effort of the departments of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, funded through a grant and UWM funding for technology projects. It will be promoted through social media and the coronavirus online resources page.
Initially, You@UWM started a year and a half ago with the work group looking at potential digital wellness resources. “The group had the goal of finding ways to support the emotional well-being of all of our students – on campus, online and students at Waukesha and Washington County campuses,” Bokowy said.
You@UWM is a customized portal from You@College, which is serving about 50 other colleges and universities nationwide. The idea started at the Colorado State University, which worked with a company called Grit Digital Health.
The company provides some of the content, but other resources are customized to UWM. “As a work group, we’ve been identifying all the campus-based resources that can be loaded into this portal, which will then be available to students,” Bokowy said. The UWM content is identified with a UWM logo.
The portal brings together information and resources to help students with emotional and mental health issues related to the stresses of university life, along with academic success content and resources. At UWM, that info includes links to the Norris Health Center, Financial Aid office, Tutoring Center, multicultural centers and other areas where students can go to for help. One goal is to allow students to seek out help even if they are concerned about a possible stigma of going to a center or counseling in person. All interactions with the portal are confidential.
The information is organized around three pillars: Succeed (academics and career), Thrive (physical and mental health) and Matter (purpose and connection).
“We do a good job of identifying resources during orientation, but it may not be relevant to them at that time,” Bokowy said. “This portal will help to provide information and resources for students later when they need them.
“The idea is to deliver information and resources to students that are helpful to them.”
The portal does not have the full package of resources because the launch was moved up, Bokowy said, but more information and resources will continue to roll out in response to student feedback. “We’re focusing on the resources that are a priority right now, and we’ll continue to build it.”