The Ohio State University Hosts Inaugural Building Healthy Academic Communities National Summit

Summit purpose to improve population health and wellness outcomes for students, faculty and staff in higher education

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COLUMBUS, OHIO (April 3 2013) – The Ohio State University is hosting the inaugural Building Healthy Academic Communities National Summit on April 22-23 in an effort to improve health and wellness outcomes among the 31.2 million students, faculty and staff in U.S. higher education.

Nearly 80 other universities and colleges are joining together in an effort to promote the health and wellness of students, faculty and staff in the US, which makes the summit the most comprehensive initiative to date on this topic.

“Higher education academic communities have lagged behind corporate wellness efforts in the past decade,” states Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FNAP, FAAN , The Ohio State University associate vice president for health promotion, chief wellness officer, and professor and dean of the College of Nursing, who is chairing the summit. “A 2011 article in the Harvard Business Review reported that for every dollar invested in worksite wellness, there is a $4 return on investment in reduced healthcare costs, higher productivity, higher engagement, and lower absenteeism.

“With the alarming increases in overweight/obesity, chronic illnesses, and mental health disorders, it is imperative that higher education institutions place high priority on wellness initiatives and prevention with a sense of urgency,” said Melnyk, who is also a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry in the College of Medicine.

Universities across the nation are now implementing multi-pronged efforts to improve faculty and staff wellness, designing less costly benefit plans, and addressing the health and wellness needs of their student populations. According to current Centers of Disease Control (CDC) data, obesity has dramatically increased in the US during the past 20 years. Nearly 70% of adults and 30% of children are overweight or obese. The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports that one in four adults and one in four to five children have a mental health disorder. According to the CDC, one out of two Americans has at least one chronic illness.

The purpose of the summit is to develop a comprehensive and collaborative national framework to enhance the health and wellness of all higher education academic communities. A meeting will be held the morning following the conference to launch a national consortium of academic institutions that will collaborate on initiatives, evidence-based frameworks and recommendations, and research to improve the population health of students, faculty and staff.

Featured summit speakers contributing to the effort include an array of nationally recognized experts from various health disciplines in higher education, medical centers, and corporations. Speakers and their topics include:

Wesley Alles , PhD, director, Stanford School of Medicine Health Improvement Program

“Innovation: Bringing Ideas to Life through Clear Vision, Creative Thinking, and Collaborative Engagement”

John Clapp, PhD, associate dean of research and faculty development, The Ohio State University College of Social Work

“Preventing Substance Abuse in College Communities: Building and Evidence-Based Multi-Level Wellness Approach”

Jack Groppel , PhD, vice president of applied science and performance training, Wellness & Prevention, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company; co-founder, Human Performance Institute

“The Biology of Business Performance in Academia: A Business Case for Individual and Organizational Health”

Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk ,PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, associate vice president for health promotion, chief wellness officer, and professor and dean, College of Nursing, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University

“A Comprehensive and Integrated Approach to Health & Wellness for Faculty, Staff and Students in Academic Communities”

Michelle King Robson , founder, CEO, and chairperson, EmpowHer

“What’s in It for HER? Empowering Female Health Consumers”

Michael Roizen , MD, chief wellness officer, Cleveland Clinic; co-founder, RealAge, Inc.

“RealAge and You: The Cleveland Clinic Experience on Controlling Your Genes and What It Means for You”

Janet Wright , MD, executive director, Million Hearts Initiative, a US Department of Health and Human Services initiative

“Million Hearts and Universities: Changing the Heart Health of the Nation Together”.

Concurrent tracks will be held each day of the summit to present best practices in promoting and sustaining wellness at academic institutions across the US. The tracks include faculty and staff health, student health, academic medical centers, and wellness innovation. Attendees also are asked to wear casual and fitness clothing to the summit to participate in wellness activities interspersed throughout the summit, a definite change in academic forum protocol.

At the conclusion of the summit, Melnyk will announce initial findings of a comprehensive survey of faculty and staff health at The Ohio State University.

Consistent with its mission of advancing wellness and health, the Building Healthy Academic Communities Summit will begin with a voluntary walk/run before its formal opening at the Ohio Union on the Ohio State campus on Monday, April 22.