Georgetown Supports Workplace Wellness
July 1, 2010 – Want to learn how to control your stress levels, quit smoking with support or join a walking program? How about establishing a deeper spiritual life?
All of these services and more are available through a program at Georgetown called GUwellness, which reaches out to faculty and staff members who want to enhance their lives and well-being. The comprehensive program seeks to boost the “mind, body and soul” of the university community.
Spearheaded by the Office of Faculty and Staff Benefits, GUWellness draws on the expertise and existing activities of many university resources.
“We’re creating a culture of wellness at Georgetown University,” says Charles DeSantis, associate vice president and chief benefits officer. “This is the intangible benefit of working at Georgetown.”
Taking Control, Taking Time
Georgetown wants to get its entire community involved in wellness activities. GUWellness participants include representatives from Yates Field House, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, the Jesuit community, the School of Nursing and Health Studies (NHS), university leaders and more.
“We want to inspire others to be active around wellness,” DeSantis says. “It doesn’t need to be dramatic. We’re not expecting you to start running a marathon, we just want you to engage in activities that will help you.”
Mind, Body and Soul
The wellness program is broken into three main sections for the mind, body and soul.
On the “mind” side, Georgetown employees have access to services such as confidential short-term and crisis counseling from the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP).
There also are stress-reduction programs, such as the meditation sessions facilitated by Sue Holyoke Johnston, a wellness counselor in FSAP.
“There are proven benefits even if you don’t always feel relaxed,” she says. “It helps our bodies work well.”
On the “body” front, GUWellness offers walking and biking groups as well as personal health assessments.
Faculty and staff memberships at Yates allow employees to take advantage of the cardio equipment, basketball courts, indoor track, pool and group exercise facilities, says Yates director Jim Gilroy.
“Exercise offers both physical and mental benefits,” Gilroy says. “It helps you get rid of stress and can get your mind off of work for a bit.”
Rev. Francis Schemel, S.J., chaplain to the staff, helps oversee GUWellness’ “soul” component.
Schemel oversees online Ignatian spiritual exercises, which lead participants in the prayers of St. Ignatius Loyola.
Spiritual guidance at Georgetown also is available from chaplains in other denominations, including the Protestant, Muslim, Jewish and Orthodox traditions. Chaplains are available on all three campuses.