Michael D. Eisner College of Education Self-Care Initiative (Self-care for U at Northridge, or the SUN Program)
Following a surge in university-based student wellness initiatives nationwide, faculty and staff self-care programs are experiencing a similar growth on many college campuses. Many universities are now looking at self-care for faculty and staff as essential to optimal functioning and success for both these individuals and the students whom they serve. Self-care activities, such as mindfulness or yoga, have been found to help individuals be more productive and satisfied in both personal and work settings.
In spring 2014, COE faculty member Shari Tarver Behring studied faculty and staff self-care at universities around the country. Her findings were used to set up the current self-care program in the College of Education. She found that, despite what are assumed to be positive aspects of self-care, the benefits of promoting self-care in university settings are not well documented. Further, the manner in which self-care activities are offered was an important factor in utilization of services. Most self-care programs on university campuses often are centrally located and administrated through Human Resources. Although these services are excellent, the attendance is often low due to accessibility issues for faculty and staff. Based on information gathered by this faculty member, faculty and staff self-care activities seemed to be most successful when there was input from all involved groups at every step as to what activities are offered, when, and where. Attendance often was highest on observed campuses when activities were chosen by the faculty and staff themselves, and were offered at convenient times in the building where most faculty and staff were located.
In fall 2014, Michael D. Eisner College of Education faculty and staff gave voluntary input at faculty and staff meetings about their preferences for self-care. This information was analyzed for preference in number of activities, types of activities, locations in building, activity time offerings, and for their willingness to participate in the self-care activities, if offered. Based on these preferences, a self-care pilot program will be developed and launched for COE faculty and staff in Spring 2015. The program activities will be offered in the College of Education building.
Four activities have been identified by faculty and staff, one each day from Monday through Thursday during the noon hour, starting the first week of February and ending the first week of May. These activities include mindfulness training, nutrition information and an option to order healthy meals, light exercise for office settings, and restorative yoga. Self-care activity instructors, called guides, are faculty volunteers from the College of Education, the College of Health and Human Development, and the Klotz Student Health Center. Self-care activities are coordinated with the Office of Human Resources on campus, as well as other self-care service groups.
For further information, see our article in Inside Higher Education.