Wellness Wednesday Yoga Group
Policy Perspectives
Student Experience

Supporting student mental health

McCourt Student Association’s mental health initiatives and ongoing collaboration with Student Affairs Coordinator Keith Guerrant tackle an important aspect of wellness.

The messages arrive in the email inboxes of McCourt students every Wednesday morning.

Hey, how has your week been? … Make sure to drink water today. … What have you done for yourself recently that makes you happy?

“In the aftermath of COVID-19, one of my first tasks was to give students support,” said Keith Guerrant, the staff member behind the messages and, as of 2021, the new student affairs coordinator for the McCourt School.

“We had returning students that completed their first year of graduate school online during the pandemic, so this was their first time on campus. And then we also had first-year students arriving on campus for the first time. A lot of the conversation about how to welcome students to campus centered around wellness.”

In a 2021 study by the American Council on Education, 73% of college presidents identified mental health as a “pressing issue” — up from 53% in a survey taken a year earlier. McCourt is addressing this challenge in myriad ways.

Yoga, anyone?

Students take a break from coursework to practice yoga at a Wellness Wednesday event.

That is just one of a number of extracurricular activities that include mindfulness exercises with Georgetown’s John Main Center for Meditation, midday walks and Wednesday sundae socials. The activities, Guerrant said, are intended to be “engaging and purposeful.” They also dovetail with the University’s commitment to cura personalis, a Jesuit concept that translates to “care for the whole person.”

McCourt School students are encouraged to take a mental break and fuel up on healthy snacks as part of Wellness Wednesday programming.

The goal is to put wellness in the forefront of students’ minds.

Keith Guerrant, Student Affairs Coordinator

The President’s Office is also playing a role in wellness, hosting in-person and Zoom sessions in which faculty, staff and students provide perspectives and share their experiences on well-being.

The Wednesday emails, meantime, highlight campus resources, such as the Counseling and Psychiatric Service (CAPS) and provide information on intramural sports and other activities to help defuse stress. Students also are encouraged to check out offerings at the Yates Field House, which offers activities such as swing dancing.

Former MSA President Brianna LaFontant (MPP’23) ran for the office a year ago on a platform of mental health and well-being.

In her role as former MSA president, Brianna LaFontant (MPP’23) prioritized mental health.

“I was asking a lot of students, ‘What do you need to feel supported at McCourt?,’” she said.

The answers she received helped to guide LaFontant and her team as they implemented additional programming for students, organizing an “all-floor” event at Old North Building at the end of the fall 2022 semester. The third floor featured food — “breakfast for dinner” — a game room was assembled on the second floor, and the first floor was dedicated to yoga and meditation.

Back at his Old North office, Guerrant is dispensing more than emails. Students can drop by for water, fruit and granola bars. He’ll also hand out “self-care kits,” themed care packages such as a movie kit that includes popcorn, a face mask and a listing of programming on streaming services.

Learn more about health and wellness resources available to students here.

McCourt School News
Policy Perspectives Fall 2023