“WellNess is an initiative designed to provide students with comprehensive health and welfare support. Launched almost a year ago, this free service is at the heart of NEOMA's current efforts to offer assistance to students during the COVID-19 crisis. The Wellness Centre is backed by a team of specialised instructors and professionals from the School who have demonstrated extraordinary adaptability to come up with a range of practical and pertinent ideas aimed at helping the students.
"Over the last few weeks, we have had to come up with new ways of keeping in contact with our students. To do so, we have by two guiding objectives: to overcome student isolation and improve their daily lives," explains Matthieu Lucas, Head of the Scholarships, Grants and Partnership department and who, with the help of his team, runs the Wellness Centre.
Special attention paid to psychological welfare
To ensure that the best possible care can be provided, a survey of students affected by COVID 19 was carried out and a telephone support system introduced. "We remain available to talk to students who have been infected, or who have family members infected by the virus, and, if necessary, provide information on other support possibilities set up by the Centre," explains Karine Triboult, Health & Disability Advisor.
Other support possibilities available include the two following solutions:
• Consultations with the School's psychologists have been adapted to be held online. This service, already available through the Wellness Centre, has been maintained for those students who already had appointments and extended to those who may require assistance at this time.
• A series of online Wellness workshops during the confinement period have been introduced to help students cope with their daily routines in a relaxed environment, particularly when it comes to dealing with emotions and time management.
Striving to maintain a meaningful link and encourage expression
To stay in close contact with the students, a number of solidarity initiatives such as surprise fruit and vegetable basket deliveries, cultural (film genre rankings) or sports activities are shared via a WhatsApp group every day. School staff are also invited to join this group. At NEOMA, "family" is much more than just a word.
And since words are an excellent cure for pain, the Wellness Center team has launched a "word thread". These are personal commentaries or introspective reflections relayed on the Campus Facebook pages. “These blank spaces are a way for students to express their feelings by writing about their confinement experience, should they feel the need,” says Matthieu Lucas.
Applying the expression "healthy mind, healthy body"
Another of the techniques the Wellness Centre uses in helping students overcome the confinement period and cope with any resulting stress is to follow the well known saying: "a healthy mind in a healthy body".
"Physical activity, meditation and relaxation are some of the best ways to take care of yourself," says Adeline Lebouvier, Health & Disability Advisor. "As part of the Wellness programme, I put my skills as a sophrologist into practice by offering students online relaxation sessions. This technique allows you to listen to your emotions and your body. Sophrology is accessible to everybody. The aim of these group sessions is to relieve tension and bring about well-being!"
Another NEOMA professor provides a different activity for students via ZOOM. Anne-Catherine Wright holds Qi Gong sessions 3 times a week.
"I have been practicing this ancestral Chinese art for 7 years and I obtained a diploma last year. The principle of Qi Gong is very similar to that of tuning a musical instrument: it is a question of aligning the body, the mind and the emotions. It is an activity that anybody can do: you don't need any specific equipment or a large space to practice. And as the movements are very gentle there is no risk of injury, which make the exercise perfect to teach online. In fact, I started off by following an online course myself. The sessions I teach are in French and English. Students can follow when they want and as many times as they want. The most motivating thing is probably the fact that you feel the benefits very quickly and initial feedback from the students is very positive."
Finally, as time passes by more quickly when the mind is engaged, the Wellness centre has made an online "Flipboard" available, created in partnership with the Library.
"Named 'Chill Out', the aim of this online content aggregator is to provide students with a wide range of escape options: music, radio, podcasts, books, films, virtual museum tours and documentaries," concludes Matthieu Lucas.
Access Chill Out here