Wellness and Support

Navigator module iconWhat is Wellness?

Well-being is an overall state of happiness, health, and the sense that your life is going well. It encompasses many different aspects of your life such as your physical health, relationships, career, and environment. All of these aspects of your life are connected and affect how happy you are.

It is crucial to understand that wellness is not merely the absence of illness or distress. Wellness is a lifelong process of making decisions to live a more balanced and meaningful life. A good way to enhance your wellness is by evaluating your current state and establishing systems to guide you towards a fuller sense of well-being.

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as “the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.”

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Why Does Wellness Matter to Students?

Students’ health and well-being contribute to their ability to learn in all disciplines including health and physical education. This learning, in turn, contributes to overall well-being. Providing students with the skills to research and analyze knowledge is key to making healthy choices and informed decisions. As a result, students recognize and change their own behaviours as they become critical consumers of health information.

wickedThe Wicked Problem – Captain Depresso by Laura Little

A story about the struggles of being on your own.

The Wicked Problem
Finding a Solution
Final Thoughts
APA Reference

Activities iconActivities: Navigate Wellness and Support

By the end of these activities, you will be able to identify strategies to support wellness, disabilities, and mental health concerns

  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of when you need help
  • Identify short-term strategies you can use now to address your immediate needs
  • Identify long-term strategies that you could use in the future to keep you afloat

Level 1 – Eight Dimensions of Wellness

What can I do to help myself?

Task: Recognize your own personal areas of wellness to become aware of where you are thriving and where you need to focus your attention.

Time Commitment

This activity may take between 45 and 60 minutes to complete.

Steps to Complete

Well-being Assessment


Are you wondering what areas of well-being you are thriving in and which might need attention? This assessment will help you to improve your own well-being.


  1. Answer all the questions for each of the eight wellness dimensions. You can answer the questions here: https://plato.algonquincollege.com/ac-library/lp/wellbeing-assessment/story.html. [1]
  2. View your scores to see where you can improve. We would also suggest writing them down or taking a screen shot of your results if you want to keep track of your responses.
  3. Complete a Wellness Guide action plan using the Your Wellness Guide from Princeton’s UMatter. You can write your answers on the page and then download the guide (choose download “with your changes”).

Feedback for your scores in each Wellness Dimension:

Scores of 20-28: Outstanding! Your answers demonstrate that you’re already taking positive steps in this dimension of wellness. You’re improving your own well-being and also setting a good example for those around you. Although you achieved a high overall score in this domain, you may want to check for low scores on individual items to see if there are specific areas you might want to address. You might also choose to focus on another area where your scores weren’t so high.

Scores of 15-19: Your behaviours in this area are good, but there is room for improvement. Take a look at the items on which you scored lower. What changes might you make to improve your score? Even a small change in behaviour can help you achieve better health and well-being.

Scores of 14 and below: Your answers indicate some potential health and well-being risks. Review those areas where you scored lower and explore the related modules.

Dig Deeperdig deeper

We have some extra resources. Like a lot of extra resources. If you want to dig deeper in any of the dimensions of wellness, you can find out more in the drop down below.

More Resources

Success Checklist

You will know that you have successfully completed this activity when:

  • You are aware of your own dimensions of wellness.
  • You have identified a current list of needs and where to focus your attention.
  • You have developed awareness of how your behaviours can help you achieve better health and well-being.

Level 2 – Recognizing Signs of Wellness in Others

How Can I Support a Peer, Family Member, or Friend?

Task: Read through the following scenarios and suggested responses. Identify if a scenario has applied to you or someone close to you. Formulate a plan for how you would respond if someone approaches you about one of these issues.

Time Commitment

This activity may take between 60 and 120 minutes to complete.

Steps to Complete

Part 1: Scenarios: Working alone or with a partner, choose one or two of the scenarios below and role play or discuss what you would say as a response.[2]

A student who is struggling to balance their studies with caring for their child
A student who is genderqueer and has just gone through a bad breakup
An Indigenous student triggered by lesson content
A homeless student misses study group
A transgender student who needs support with a culturally unsafe instructor
An engineering student who appears anxious and rushes out of class
An international student who is not able to pay fees
An international student feeling overwhelmed by academic and work commitments
A student worried about failing a course and disappointing their family
A student triggered by an instructor’s comments about weight and body image
A student struggling to balance academic pressures with their social life

Part 2: Take a Moment To Think About Your Responses

Think about how you would respond to the one or two scenarios you have chosen. Alone or with a partner, write down or discuss what questions you would ask your peer, family member, or friend who is sharing their situation with you. Consider how you would show empathy and support, and what actions you may take after learning of their situation. Once you have identified some ideas, continue to the suggested responses below.

Part 3: How You Could Respond

Here are some of the suggested ways that you may wish to respond to your peer, family member, or friend.

Compare these suggested responses with the ideas you came up with alone or with a partner. What is similar? What is different? What would you change about your own responses after reading the suggestions? Below are two examples of responses from the link above.

Scenario 1: Student who’s struggling to balance studies with caring for their child

Possible response:

I can see you really care about your daughter and how important it is to ensure she is safe and well-cared for. I also see how hard you are working to do well by studying while she is sleeping. I admire and respect you for putting yourself through school while raising a child. Is there anything I can do for you right now that would ease your stress?  I know it may feel like you are out of options, but perhaps we can figure this out together. We can contact student services on campus. They may have a list of caregivers for this specific reason or resources/referrals for parents. We can also try Facebook and ask the community if they know of any reputable caregivers that have space for your daughter. Perhaps it would be a good idea to speak to your instructors so they’re aware of everything that you’re juggling. They may be able to give you more time for assignments or may have resources or ideas you haven’t thought of yet.

Scenario 2: Student who’s genderqueer and just gone through a bad breakup

Possible response:

I’m sorry to hear about your breakup with your partner. In my time working with you on this project, you have been diligent, hardworking, and enthusiastic. I can see your situation is causing you a lot of stress and sadness and distracting you from your studies. Have you spoken to anyone about this? Do you have support at home or with friends or family? The school has some excellent LGTBQ+-friendly counseling services you can access as well. Maybe it would help to talk to someone about what you are going through? I commend you on continuing to show up and trying the best you can; it’s a testament to your resilience. Although we do need to complete our project, I’m flexible in how we continue with it. Is there anything we can change to ease some of your stress, such as working on it together instead of separating the work and then meeting?

dig deeperDig Deeper

There are many more resources available to you for help. Here are some of them.

More Resources

Success Checklist

You will know that you have successfully completed this activity when:

  • You have the ability to understand your mental stress level and share it with others whom you trust.
  • You can identify ways to motivate yourself and learn from others’ experiences.
  • You can listen empathetically and acknowledge another person’s strength and resilience.
  • You are able to connect someone with counselling services.

Level 3 – Help Someone Like You

What can I do to help someone else navigate wellness and the supports available to them?

Task: Reflect on your own wellness journey and consider sharing what has worked for you.

Time Commitment

This activity may take between 1 and 2 hours to complete.

Steps to Complete

  1. Consider the following areas of your journey:
    1. Emotional wellness is being attentive to both positive and negative feelings and understanding how to handle these emotions. This also includes the ability to learn and grow from past experiences.
    2. Environmental wellness encourages us to live in harmony with the Earth by taking action to protect it. Environmental well-being promotes interaction with nature and your personal environment. You can have a strong environmental conscience simply by raising your awareness of your surroundings. A clean, safe, comfortable environment helps you feel good, whether you are in your home or out in the community.
    3. Financial wellness and developing financially-smart habits during college are valuable investments that will help you achieve your future goals.
    4. Intellectual wellness helps you explore new ideas and perspectives in order to become curious, try new things, and develop an understanding of how you see the relationship between yourself, others, and the environment.
    5. Career wellness is far more than the money you make or the title you hold. It is having a career or vocation that is personally fulfilling.
    6. Physical wellness promotes proper care of your body for optimal health and functioning.
    7. Social wellness refers to the relationships we have and how we interact with others.
    8. Spiritual wellness not only allows you to seek meaning and purpose in human existence but allows you to appreciate your life experiences for what they are.
  2. View the following resources that can help you with your own reflections:
  3. Identify what has worked well for you and what challenges you faced:
    • Did you have to gain access to technology, supplies, tools?
    • Did you have to advocate for your needs?
    • Did you find value in the support available at your institution?
  4. Reflect on how you overcame these challenges or barriers:
    • What plan did you put in place?
    • Did you address these challenges on your own?
    • Did you seek support?
    • Who did you approach?
    • What steps did you take?
  5. Consider other students who may be facing the same or similar challenges and barriers to access in their studies.
    • What advice would you pass on to those students?
    • What were your greatest lessons learned?
    • What do you wish you would have known before you started college or university?
  6. If you would like to share your advice with peers at your institution, consider speaking to your Student Council.
  7. If you would like to share your advice with students at any institution, consider submitting your reflections either with your name or anonymously to the Wicked Problems website where your story may be featured along with the many others who have shared. Your advice can truly make a difference for another student.

Success Checklist

You will know that you have successfully completed this activity when:

  • You have reflected on your own personal Wellness journey
  • You have considered what worked well for you and what challenges you faced
  • You have identified ways that you overcame those challenges and what the result was
  • You have identified a way to share your story

Final Words of Wisdom

Every post-secondary institution has resources available for their students, no matter what they are struggling with. It is important that you reach out and ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in struggling with any aspect of wellness. As we’ve learned in this module, the many aspects of wellness are interconnected and important for overall wellbeing. Wishing you a healthy and happy post-secondary journey.

  1. This material was adapted from the Princeton UMatter Wellness Self-Assessment for The Learning Portal.
  2. Scenarios adapted from handout “Starting a Conversation about Mental Health: Foundational Training for Students” licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0 license)


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Liberated Learners Copyright © 2022 by Terry Greene et al. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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