The Wellness Center at William Peace University

May 19, 2020

A valuable resource and support services for students of WPU


“Successful people use resources. Using resources is not a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of strength.”

At William Peace University (WPU), wellness comes in many forms. The Wellness Center offers a range of services to help students achieve wellness in college and build a foundation to take with them when they leave. Nicole Davis, LCMHS is the director of the Wellness Center and has been with WPU since 2012. She works with her team to help students find the value in wellness and provide quality services to match.

“I love providing mental health care and life support for college-age students because they are in such a challenging and exciting time of life transition. They come in as teenagers and leave as adults who have matured and are ready to begin a life of independence,” says Davis. 

Davis oversees the Wellness Center’s three main services: professional counseling, support for students with disabilities and general health services.

Health Services

Health services focus on the physical health of students. A professional medical staff is available to students to assess and treat most minor illnesses like sore throats, sinus infections and stomach viruses. They can also test for more serious ailments such as mononucleosis and the flu. Twice a month, health professionals from Wake County Health and Human Services come to campus to administer free and confidential STI testing. When a student requires specialized care, the Wellness Center is able to refer them off-campus, however, most needs can be addressed directly. 

The Wellness Center also runs the Pacer Pantry, a place for students to access free groceries and personal care items. The pantry not only caters to students’ physical needs but aims to reduce the negative effects of food insecurity on mental health. 

Counseling Services

The Wellness Center provides students with short-term mental health care. Each student has access to 10 counseling sessions per academic year. These sessions address a variety of challenges, ranging from stress, loneliness and academic demands to depression, anxiety and other mental health diagnoses. 

Sessions are limited to ensure that all WPU students can access these resources. If additional care is needed, counselors will work with students to find an outside provider. The Wellness Center can then work with this provider as an on-campus touchpoint. For students with barriers to off-campus resources, the Wellness Center is flexible with the session limit. 

“As the stigma of mental health has come down, we see more and more students reaching out for support,” says Davis. “We also see students bringing their friends over, which is really nice.” 

But the stigma still exists. The Wellness Center works to ensure patient confidentiality and create a welcoming environment so that all WPU students feel comfortable coming in, especially those in traditionally underrepresented groups. 

“It is good to note that we have drop-in hours. While we see students by appointment, every day from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. a counselor is available for a brief, solution-focused session, and then [we might] schedule a long term follow-up session,” Davis adds.

Disability Services

Students come to WPU with an assortment of physical, psychiatric, cognitive and developmental disabilities. The Wellness Center guarantees all students equal access to their living and learning environments by offering individualized support to those with functional limitations, ensuring each student has a chance to succeed. 

“We are seeing more and more students coming to college with disabilities, which is wonderful. Many have already been through the school system and had different accommodations in place, so we try to continue that. We also work with them on self-advocacy, so when they leave WPU and go into the workforce, they are able to advocate for themselves,” says Davis. 

The first step in self-advocacy is self-identification. Davis encourages students to inform the Wellness Center of disabilities during the admissions process. Even if a student does not want to use accommodations, it is helpful to simply be connected with the Wellness Center. 

The Wellness Center most commonly deals with academic accommodations. Once an academic accommodation plan is established, the student and their professors work together to implement it. The Wellness Center offers support and validation along the way. 

Wellness Across Campus

The Wellness Center collaborates with offices across WPU’s campus to provide students with valuable services throughout their college life. 

Davis’s team works with the Center for Student Success, which includes the Academic and Tutoring Center and First Year Experience to deliver educational workshops about mental health. The Wellness Center also connects with Dining Services to promote healthy eating as well as Student Support Services to create programming that promotes wellness throughout a student’s life. The Wellness Center recently partnered with Residential Life to develop an emotional support animal policy for students living in residence halls. In past semesters, the Wellness Center has brought to therapy animals to campus during midterms and final exams to students’ delight. 

Wellness in Challenging Times

Even though WPU’s classes and activities were transitioned off campus by the COVID-19 pandemic, Davis has still found ways to bring the student body together. The Wellness Center launched Coping with COVID-19 to help students work through the recent changes and uncertainties.

“We did an online support group this spring after students left campus to give them a place to talk. We did not have much of an agenda at all; we just gave students a chance and a place to talk about how their lives have been changed, and I think it was helpful,” Davis says.

All of these efforts come together to build a community of wellness at WPU, which Davis describes as the best part of her job. 

“I am really proud of the community we have at WPU,” she says. “More than once, we’ve seen first-year students come into the Wellness Center and their [school] experience up to that point has not been positive; they’ve not found their friend group, or maybe they’ve even experienced bullying. They come to WPU, and they are able to find community.” 

Her advice to students? Don’t be afraid to take advantage of WPU’s resources.

“Successful people use resources. Using resources is not a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of strength.”