The development and implementation of a truly comprehensive and integrated wellness model – one that is woven into the complex fabric of the modern college or university – is no small task! To ensure that students can “live, work, and play” in ways that move them towards the realization of their primary goals and aspirations – obtaining a rich and meaningful education that prepares them cognitively, socially, and vocationally to be citizens of the modern world (while having fun!) is a daunting task.
The social ecological model, referenced below in relation to recovery, and represented below in relation to wellness, just may be our best bet at obtaining the guidance necessary to develop a comprehensive and integrated wellness model that, vetted appropriately , could align with four cardinal attributes of “environmental wellness”: community, health, home, and purpose.
The diagram below depicts the now familiar social ecological model that facilitates a comprehensive focus on a particular health target. In this case, we see that the Cooperative Extension has delineated how an individually focused characteristic such as wellness may be fostered through action at individual, peer, group, community, and public policy levels.
How might a model like this assist us in relating substance use disorder(s) and other bio-behavioral health issues to wellness?
SAMHSA has delineated four major dimensions that support a life in recovery, and each may be related to the social ecological model:
- Health—managing disease(s) or symptoms (e.g. abstaining from use)
- Home— a stable and safe place to live
- Purpose—conducting meaningful activities
- Community—having relationships and social networks
At the public policy, community, group, peer, and individual level, each of these may be supported through environmental action, ensuring that individuals with substance use disorders are met with an environment that is wellness promoting.