Students seek wellness at Wells Library

What students were offered 

There is a growing trend of libraries providing social work and mental health services to communities, and some public libraries are even hiring social workers, said Dallis-Comentale. Under the pilot program at IU Bloomington, free, individual sessions have been available to students Monday through Friday either by signing up at tables during the IU Libraries’ Friday Finish activities or dropping in at the designated consultation rooms. Some sessions are 30 to 60 minutes, and some are shorter. Students can have one or multiple sessions, depending on their needs. Virtual and in-person sessions are available. 

During this academic year, 64 sessions with students were conducted, according to Amanda McKinley, visiting wellness clinical professor overseeing the School of Social Work Wellness Program. Coaching sessions also are offered at the Jacobs School of Music and the McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. 

Additionally, wellness coaches staffed a table in the Wells Lobby every Friday the Friday Finish was offered in both the spring and fall semester. Activities encouraged students to play games with coaches, consider their choices and habits, and talk about resources and ways to alleviate stress. “We want to get wellness information in the hands of as many people we can,” said McKinley. 

Both the Libraries and School of Social Work considered the pilot a success. “We’re already signed on to continue the program next year,” McKinley reported. 

Many young people are at a table facing out at an event. They are smiling and talking to one another and also to the crowded lobby around them

The Friday Finish occurred multiple weeks at Wells Library in Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 semesters. The Social Work Wellness program was consistently there to discuss wellness topics with students.

What is wellness coaching? 

Coaching can focus on any dimension of well-being, including social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, occupational and financial. Interestingly, McKinley said, a lot of sessions so far have dealt with students’ social issues. “Students want to connect more with other students,” she explained. For example, international students have sought assistance with isolation as they are not physically close to their families and live in a different culture, McKinley said. When students come to sessions, coaches ask about the areas on which they want to focus and then help students come up with goals. “It’s very client driven. We’re guiding them along the way. We can make referrals for counseling, food pantries and other community services, too,” she said. 


Students can make an Wellness Appointment

From 15 minute, "Mindful Minutes" sessions to full hour virtual and in-person wellness coaching appointments, students can request time with an advanced social work student in the Indiana University program. Email blliwell @ iu. edu to learn more. In Fall 2024, an online scheduling page will be available.
A posed group of people stands behind a table with a printed tablecloth reading School of Social Work Wellness Program


The learning experience for social work students 

Since last semester, Melissa Bielawa, senior, has coached 34 students. She said she’s learned much about coaching, particularly about interacting with people her age, which often is beneficial. “They can see the coach can relate,” she said. “It helps us build rapport and have a better relationship with students off the bat.” 

Bielawa agreed students who she coached often wanted to work on social wellness and how to build up their own communities. She said some students want to work on time management, motivation and improving academic work. “It’s not therapy, but coaching,” she said. “We find what exact interventions will work for them."