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UnionFest: Supporting and Strengthening a Healthy You


Your health and wellness is so important to your success in college.  This involves all aspects of your health – Physical, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual, Relational/Social, Sexual, Financial, Embracing Self & Others, Making Good Choices, & Keeping Safe.  It sounds like a lot, but you can do it.  We want you to not only survive the challenges that being in college and being responsible for yourself bring; but we want to see you thrive.

Student Health, the Counseling Center, the MindBody Connection, and the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities are here to help when you need a boost.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you feel things are too much to handle or when you need support to strengthen your life skills.  We’re right here.

Check out the “15 Healthy Living Tips” below!

Managing Stress

  • Stress is a normal part of life that can have both positive and negative consequences. Stress can help us get motivated to complete a task, while at other times it can be overwhelming and interfere with productivity.  Common symptoms of stress are tension, shakiness, distraction, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, sweaty hands, heart pounding, or an inability to relax. It is valuable to have a variety of activities in one’s life to help reduce stress. There are many different sources of stress such as finances, relationships, academic studies, work, family, etc.
  • Spend meaningful time with people that you care about and that care about you. Develop healthy relationships where you can honestly express yourself. Get involved in clubs and activities at UMKC   where you can meet others you can develop friendships with. Having meaningful relationships can improve well-being.
  • Build positive self-esteem and stop negative self-talk. Be confident in your ability to deal with problems in your life and know there are a lot of resources that are available at UMKC to help you. Remember what you have accomplished in the past and that while challenges in life can be hard, they are also an opportunity to learn and grow. Write down things every day that you are grateful for, that you appreciate and that bring beauty and value to your life.
  • The top 5 ways reported by UMKC students that help them manage their stress effectively are: 1) making lists of what needs to be done; 2) exercising; 3) taking a nap; 4) talking with friends; and 5) listening to music.  (*2014 MCHBS)

Mental Health

  • Many college students will experience a mental health problem at some time in their college career. Anxiety and depression are among the leading mental health problems college students deal with and left untreated may negatively influence academic performance. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength and can help you deal more effectively with problems. There are many treatment options available for mental health issues and confidential services are available at the UMKC Counseling Center.
  • When a friend has an emotional problem, be compassionate and take time to listen and be available to offer your support. Encourage your friend to talk about their feelings and do not judge them for what they are experiencing. Know it is OK to not have the answers and the limits of your abilities. Encourage your friend to seek professional help. If you think your friend is suicidal or they have suggested wanting to end their life, get help immediately by telling an RA, taking them to the hospital or bringing them to the Counseling Center.
  • Be active in creating positive mental health. Involve yourself in activities you enjoy and that bring meaning to your life. Avoid excessive self-criticism, build positive self-esteem and be kind to yourself. Find a balance between study and leisure. Having good mental health allows you to function effectively in daily life activities and enables you to deal with challenges that arise.
  • If you have an ongoing diagnosed mental health condition that is impacting you academically you may be eligible for support services and accommodations through the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.  Contact Scott Laurent at (816) 235-5696 or by email at
  • You can take a 15 minute online training called Ask Listen Refer to learn how to help a friend who may be depressed or having suicidal thoughts.  Find it at


  • Good sleep is the foundation for learning, good mood, and overall health.  Pay attention to your body’s unique sleep needs and commit to getting 6-8 hours a night for better learning and mood.
  • Naps can disrupt the body’s natural sleep rhythms and ultimately cause insomnia (inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much).  Avoid daytime naps and try to get all your sleep at night.
  • Practice good “sleep hygiene” by limiting caffeine intake, getting regular exercise, and spending time in natural light daily.  Also, keep your sleep area free from distraction and only use your bed for sleeping.
  • The National Sleep Foundation has many resources including sleep diaries and information on sleepiness and sleep disorders.
  • Many students report having chronic sleep issues.  If you are struggling with getting good sleep, stop by the MindBody Connection for a sleep consultation and some help to get yourself back to healthy sleep.


Academic Success

  • Practice good time management by planning out all your regular activities – classes, work, extracurricular activities, study time and exercise.  Use this schedule to help you avoid over-committing.
  • Symptoms of test anxiety include intense fear and distractibility during tests, being unable to remember information you’ve studied, and physical symptoms such as racing heart, sweating, nausea, and dizziness.  If you have these symptoms, visit the MindBody Connection or the Counseling Center to learn how to manage anxiety.
  • Students who miss classes miss important information.  Attend every class.  Do your readings and review your notes between classes.  Seek help if you have difficulty taking good notes in class.
  • Talk with your Academic Advisor about how your classes are going.  She or he can help guide you to additional support, help you find the right balance of courses, and ensure that you stay on track toward timely completion of your degree.
  • Students who drink alcohol during the week report negative academic consequences including coming to class after drinking and not being able to think clearly, missing class, and poorer scores on assignments and exams.  3 out of 5 students report that they are motivated to drink less or not drink at all when they have academic obligations. (*2014 MCHBS)

Involvement and Connectedness

  • Research shows that students who are involved in campus activities are more successful academically.  Seek out people, groups, or jobs that fit your interests.
  • Creating a support network at college can help you personally and academically.  Getting to know your classmates and people you live with will enrich your college experience.  Invite someone to a campus activity, form a study group, or simply spend time getting to know others.
  • Instructors who know their students can help them succeed and give them valuable opportunities in their careers.  It’s never too early to form connections with faculty.  Use their office hours, speak with them after class, and let them know early if you are struggling.
  • The Office of Student Involvement offers a wide array of opportunities for involvement and connectedness.  From on-campus movies and events to community volunteering to student organizations and everything in between, there is no shortage of ways to be active at UMKC!  Check out Communiversity’s course offerings – a chance to learn a new skill and meet people with similar interests.  Commuter students can find tips on ways to get connected and LGBTQIA students have an active community presence on our campus.
  • Be an active member of this campus community.  You will be glad you did.

Personal Safety

  • Driving while texting is the same as drunk driving; actually, records and research show that more accidents and more deaths occur due to texting than any other type of dangerous or distracted driving.  Believe it.  It is your responsibility to be careful and not take risks that are likely to harm yourself and others.  Texting can wait until you are not behind the wheel.
  • It is common to hear people say something like “I might ride with the least drunk person” or “I stop drinking for an hour or two before I drive.”  Even having a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .06 affects the capability of the brain to make clear decisions.  Why take any chances?  68% of UMKC students report that they will not drive at all after any amount of drinking.  77.5% of UMKC students define a designated driver as someone who has had no alcohol beverages.  (*2014 MCHBS)
  • Make it automatic and put on that seatbelt every time you get in the car.  Know your physics to understand that a heavy moving object such as a car and a sudden impact or change in direction has far more severe power that you may imagine.  We know that wearing seatbelts greatly increases your chances of safety and protection if and when you may find yourself in an unexpected situation.  83.1% of UMKC students report that they always wear a safety belt (2014 MCHBS*).  Buckle up!
  • Make your personal safety a priority on campus and in the community.  The UMKC Alert system will notify you by text or phone call if there is a campus closing or emergency, so be sure you are signed up for it.  Be aware of your surroundings and trust your gut – if you see something suspicious, report it.

Healthy Choices Around Substance Use

  • If you drink, you can have plenty of fun and relaxation without going overboard.  Did you know that 3 out of 4 UMKC students who drink do not binge on alcohol? (*2014 MCHBS)  Binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks in a 2-hour sitting for women and 5 or more drinks in a 2-hour sitting for men.  Some great protective behaviors are to sip slowly to make your drink last longer and to alternate having a non-alcoholic drink before having a second alcoholic drink.  Water is especially good to help you stay hydrated.  Have fun and stay safer!
  • Did you know that 83.9% of UMKC students prefer to kiss a non-smoker?  (2013 MCHBS)  UMKC offers support to help you quit smoking.  Contact UMKC Student Health & Wellness about the Smoking Cessation Coaching program to support you in your goal to quit smoking.  Just think . . . your clothes will smell fresher; your teeth will be whiter; your lungs will get pink again, and you will enjoy a longer life.  Breathe well!
  • 73% of UMKC students disapprove of you using prescription drug medication without a doctor’s prescription. And 97.5% of UMKC students believe that a person harms him/herself, physically or otherwise, when they use prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription.  (*2014 MCHBS)  When used recreationally (to get high), stimulants, depressants, and painkillers can have many negative, even toxic, effects on the user.  More people die from prescription drug use than any other drug use.  In Missouri, illegal possession of prescription drugs is a class C felony.  It is illegal to distribute prescription drugs to anyone including giving them to friends.  You can practice good time management and study skills to help you manage the demands of college; you can implement daily stress management practices to stay balanced; and you can practice mindfulness and gratitude to enjoy your life.  Visit the MindBody Connection in the Atterbury Student Success Center (room 112) to get some guidance and support.  Live well!

Embracing Identity

  • Most people struggle with both really knowing oneself and with the perceived pressure to somehow be different than how you are being.  Knowing self is something that is both natural and evolving.  Try being the “Listener” and the “Observer” of life and of your thoughts and behaviors.  Just watch without judgment.  You, the real you, is that observer and listener and that place of centeredness.  As you go through each moment, you are growing in your consciousness of self and others.  You will find that it is always best to just Be You
  • It is incredible to think about the uniqueness of every single person.  Think about it.  There is no one in the world like you who has had the exact same life experiences, the makeup of your personality and values, your own life wisdom.  As you go through your life, try approaching each individual and your observation of your own self with honor and respect.  You have the opportunity to learn so much from your observations and from each other.  Seek to understand.
  • It is the truth that you are needed in the world in ways that may not be apparent to you.  When you can become more aware of your presence and interactions, you will know how things fit together and how you are an integral part of everything.  It does feel great to know that you and what you have to offer is part of the ebb and flow of life.  Try being aware of your interactions and the intention you feel behind each one.  Recognize what you are getting from your interactions with others.  Today and every day, smile when you meet another person along your path.  Enjoy and feel the gratitude and connection.

Basic Health

  • Wash your hands. Studies have shown that simple hand washing can help prevent a large number of illnesses. So wash your hands, especially any time you'll be touching your nose, mouth or eyes or if you've been around others who are sick.
  • Drink water. Drinking enough water can help boost your concentration as well as keep you from overeating. Make sure to keep hydrated as you go through your day by bringing water with you.
  • Try to Move More. You should try to move more every day. You can take part in sports activities, going for walk, doing exercise, mow the lawn etc.
  • Insurance.  Always carry your insurance card with you.
  • Medications.  Know what your current medications and allergies are.  This can be hard to remember so make a list and keep it with you.

Sexual Health

  • Always use protection. Unless you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a partner who has been confirmed STD-free, always make sure to use protection to prevent the risk of contracting a disease.
  • Get tested. Protect your sexual health by getting tested for STDs annually or even more frequently.
  • Don't do anything you're not comfortable with. While you may feel pressure from a partner or even those around you to engage in certain sexual activities, never do anything you aren't completely comfortable with. It's your body and you are in charge, don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.
  • 25% of people HIV+ are unaware of their status.
  • Chlamydia can be present without symptoms of vaginal/penile discharge or itch.
  • Peeing or douching after sex does NOT protect against pregnancy.
  • 1 out of 4 young adults will contract an STI.

Financial Health

  • Stick to a budget. In order to be a good steward of your finances, you need to establish a budget to help you keep track of the money you have and how you’re spending it. Budgeting can help you be aware of where you need to cut back, and how much money you can bear to splurge.
  • Pay off credit card debt. Credit card companies often target college students, giving away free t-shirts and water bottles if you sign up on the spot. If you are considering a credit card, spend some time comparing the different cards available. Look at the annual percentage rate (APR), annual fee, penalty fees and grace period. Choose a card with a reasonable credit limit (such as $1000) to avoid getting into too much debt, and make your payment on time every month.
  • Student Loans:  Borrow as little as possible. Factor in tuition and the cost of education expenses (books, school supplies, lab fees, etc.) to determine the loan amount.  Many times lenders will offer you a loan that is much more than you need to pay for a college education.  Work out a budget for yourself to determine how much of a loan you need, because borrowing too much means you'll be paying more in interest in the long term.

Body Image, Exercise and Healthy Eating

  • When you are feeling down about your body, getting out of your head is essential.  This can be as simple as listening to music, getting active, finding your “happy place”, or simply removing yourself from the trigger situation.  The goal is to move away from the negative and back to the positive thoughts.
  • Finding fun ways to be active helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle.  This can be as easy as going for a walk, hiking, yoga, zumba, etc.  Find what fun means for you!
  • Lacking healthy eating habits not only affects your weight but your focus, overall energy, quality of sleep, and academic success to name a few.  Incorporate 3 servings of dairy, whole grains, lean protein, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water into your daily diet.
  • If you are concerned you may have an eating problem, consider taking a brief online screening to find out if further evaluation is needed.


  • Following the Golden Rule can be very beneficial in having a healthy relationship with your roommate.  By treating your roommate the way you would like to be treated, you are allowing yourself to be open to new situations, patient, understanding, and honest in a friendly manner.
  • In order to have a healthy relationship with your significant other, you must first love yourself.  It is important to take care of yourself, be trusting and patient with your partner, support each other’s dreams and goals, and keep connected and involved in friendships.
  • Abuse in relationships can be physical, sexual, emotional, and/or verbal.  It is important to have knowledge on the types of abuse, the signs of abuse, and what to do if you or someone you know is being abused.  If you have been sexually assaulted, harassed or stalked, the UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Program is here to help you.

Managing Your Disability

  • As a student with a disability you have all the same pressures that other students have plus you must manage your disability.  That’s why taking the time to do things right the first time is important.
  • Everyone’s disability is unique.  Take time to review what you need to be doing to manage your disability.  Track and make sure you are taking care of yourself first.  Things like diet, exercise, maintaining healthy relationships, reducing stress, taking medication, etc. are all important aspects of self-care.
  • Work closely with your medical professional to ensure that you are doing everything necessary to manage your disability.  If you are on medication make sure you take that as prescribed.  If you are experiencing side effects from the medication speak with your doctor so they can be addressed.
  • Seek help when needed. Don't be afraid to ask for help. There are many resources on campus to support you, such as Academic Support and Mentoring.
  • Register with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, and schedule a time to meet with staff to discuss any needs you might have and understand resources available to you.  If you are seeking academic accommodations, ensure you have proper documentation to become registered with this office.
  • Develop good working relationships with your academic advisor and professors to receive additional support for your learning.

Being Open to Getting Help

  • People have many reasons that they might feel they should not seek help when they are struggling.  We might feel our problems are not that bad compared to others’; we may worry that we are taking the place of someone who needs help more; or we may have been taught that it’s “weak” to need help, among many other reasons.  Seeking help is actually the strong thing to do.  There is an entire system of helpers on campus who are here just to help ensure that UMKC students succeed in their academic, career and personal goals.  Take advantage of all that is available to you!
  • Sometimes a little self-help goes a long way.  Check out the resources and links on the Student Health & Wellness, Counseling Center, and MindBody Connection websites.  If you are unsure if you need more help, take a free mental health screening or stop by the MindBody Connection (Atterbury Student Success Center 112) to chat with a staff member.  Or, seek out support from whomever you trust.  Sometimes just talking things through with a trusted friends helps a great deal.
  • 76% of UMKC students report that they are likely or very likely to refer someone for help to a campus resource when needed. (*2014 MCHBS).  Research on college students also shows that, if a student utilizes support services on their college campus, they will increase their GPA by .86 points.

Highlighted Resources

MindBody Connection

Phone: 816.235.5169

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Student Health & Wellness

Phone: 816.235.6133



Counseling Center

Phone: 816-235-1635




Office of Services for Students with Disabilities

Phone: 816.235.5696