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Supporting Health and Well-being

Dear Northwestern Students,

 As our academic year begins, I wanted to update you about Northwestern’s continued focus on your health and well-being. Supporting health and well-being is a priority across the University, and one that can only be accomplished through diligence and collective efforts. Critical partnerships with students, faculty, staff, alumni and our Evanston and Chicago communities demonstrate Northwestern’s commitment to your well-being and can be seen in the following ways:

Ongoing Initiatives

  • Wellness at Northwestern: Working with our key partners, including students, and spearheaded by Health Promotion and Wellness (HPaW), Northwestern has created a new wellness website based on the eight dimensions of wellness. Links to important campus resources are found on this site in a more organized and easier-to-follow-format for our students.
  • Student Well-being Task Force: The Student Well-being Task Force comprised of students, staff and faculty, has completed work around undergraduate needs for well-being, and updated information is available on the website. The task force will host focus groups with graduate and professional students this fall to gather feedback about various aspects of the student experience, particularly around wellness, with final recommendations due in Winter 2020.
  • NUhelp: Northwestern created and continues to enhance the NUhelp app and web information. This comprehensive collection of campus resources includes reporting mechanisms available to all University community members.

Mental Health Resources

  • Changes to access for CAPS services - Evanston Campus: With the recent addition of two staff members to the Evanston CAPS team, CAPS has been able to adjust how students can access services. In addition to phone and scheduled in-person meetings, CAPS will now staff walk-in hours for students on the Evanston campus.
  • Access for CAPS services - Chicago Campus: CAPS at Chicago is here to assist you. Visit our website for information on services offered, and how to access these mental health services.
  • Breathe app: Northwestern continues to offer and expand upon the Breathe app. Since its inception, the app has had over 20,000 views, providing students and others with stress management techniques, including guided meditations and breathing practices to manage stress. A module launched in Spring 2019 for graduate and professional students.
  • Suicide Prevention and Training: The University continues to expand QPR (Question-Persuade-Refer) suicide prevention outreach and training to help our community recognize warning signs for suicide and assist others in need. Health Service will also be offering routine suicide screenings later in the Fall quarter.

Financial Support and Advocacy

  • Student financial assistance: The University continues to receive generous support from alumni and others to assist students from low-income backgrounds, as well as students who find themselves dealing with an unexpected emergency.
  • Student patient advocate: Northwestern employs a full-time patient advocate at the Health Service office to help students navigate their insurance and help students work with health providers on billing issues.


  • Additional staff and space for AccessibleNU: Student Affairs, through resource reallocation, is hiring an assistant director and a program assistant at AccessibleNU to better serve our students on both campuses. We also have added a third testing and assistive technology space on the Evanston Campus at 2122 Sheridan Road, and have created an instructor portal to assist faculty with supporting students in the classroom.

In addition to University-provided services, our students and staff continue to come together to support each other in meaningful ways. In collaboration with CAPS, Northwestern students have a chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Wildchat continues to serve as a phone support service for students that provides free, confidential peer-listening. In collaboration with HPaW, other student organizations like WATCH focus on additional elements of health and well-being, and both The Graduate School and Associated Student Government have prioritized wellness and well-being.

We are committed to engaging with our students more regularly around issues of health and well-being. This fall, we are establishing two new advisory boards on which students will be represented -- a Mental Health Advisory Board and an advisory board for the vice president for Student Affairs. Given that a large number of our students rely on the Student Health Insurance Program, we also will be adding student members to the Student Health Insurance Policy Committee. More information about these opportunities will be shared later in October as we look to recruit and appoint members.  

Please take time to balance the excitement of campus life and the demands of class and study with a focus on your own self-care and well-being, and know that our Northwestern community is here to help you. In addition, do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, feedback or ideas at I look forward to working with you to ensure that health and well-being remain a top priority for our University community.