By Alex Lazo
Throughout my college career, I have always known Denison to be doing construction. And although it is definitely an eye sore, an inconvenience to motorists, and sometimes an abysmal failure (e.g., the Moonies), I do appreciate Denison’s proclivity to constantly self-improve.
One of Denison’s newest editions and success stories is the Ann & Thomas Hoaglin Wellness Center. Fortunately, if you are a Freshman, you will never have to deal with the headache which once was the Whisler Center. Despite being staffed with great people, it was outdated and disorganized; one time when they could not figure out what I was sick with, they just prescribed me antibiotics for mono (I had already tested negative for mono).
College can be an exciting and transformative time, but it is also a period of significant change and stress. With the pressure to perform academically and maintain a social life, it is no surprise that so many college students struggle with their mental and physical health.
However, with the Hoaglin Center, Denison has certainly turned over a new leaf. Their services have expanded to offer mental health counseling, medical care, fitness programs, nutrition counseling, and stress reduction techniques that can help Denisonians manage their overall health and well-being. Thus, because of this colossal shift from the dinosaur times of Whisler, 127 decided to look at how this actually impacted the lives of Denison students. Did the mental health of Denisonians improve?
In our February survey, 127 asked a series of questions about how Denisonians perceive their mental health on campus. As shown in the graph below, we found that Denisonians demonstrate a strong understanding of their mental health, however, 71.3% of students have also reported having struggled with it. This signifies an area for improvement because only half of the population disclosed that they feel supported in their mental health needs (though a sizable bunch – 30% – have no idea).
In order to get a better understanding of if the new Wellness Center has improved the lives of the students, we took a look at the survey results from before the transition from Whisler to Hoaglin. Last year, we asked Denisonians the same questions from the graph above and found that there has since been a notable improvement in how Denisonians engage with their mental health. When comparing the two graphs, 127 found that students feel more knowledgeable, supported, and cared for about their mental health since the opening of Hoaglin. For instance, there has been a 2% increase in mental health knowledge from 2022 to 2023. Subsequently, 62% of students said people at Denison care about their mental health this spring, while it was only 46.3% last spring.
On a national level, classroom-related pressures are identified as the most prominent stressor for college students; this was also proven to be true in the years prior at Denison. Therefore, while the new wellness center hosts 1-2 relaxation or de-stress events every day, it is evident that it only functions as temporary relief. As shown in the graph below, the stress levels in the Hoaglin Era continue to parallel the stress levels from the Whisler Era, despite their advancements in the fight against mental health struggles.
Like every other college in America, Denison seeks to provide students with adequate support and resources to care for their health, mental and physical. The addition of Hoaglin has certainly improved the quality of Denison’s services, but there remains much room for improvement as it is clear that students are still struggling to find tranquility. But on the other hand, attending a college that students did not find challenging or that did not elicit some form of stress would be as useless as a screen door on a submarine.
Alex Lazo is a senior political science major who took way too long to finish editing this article because the sun came out this week and Piper Broomhead kept asking her to go tanning.