December 10, 2021

A Commitment to Care

Investing in holistic health at Andover
by Dr. Amy Patel, Medical Director

Far too often school-based health is regarded as incidental to the broader learning experience—it’s reactionary and only provided in times of illness. But at Andover, wellness has become central to our mission and incredibly far-reaching. With strong institutional and donor support, we are intentionally strengthening students’ minds, bodies, and spirits for lasting wellness, giving them the proactive tools to succeed and thrive on Andover Hill and long after graduation.

Now more than ever, holistic health is an Academy imperative—and a Knowledge & Goodness campaign priority as well—and I’m delighted to share more about this campus- wide partnership.

Our Team

The Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center was built with early campaign funding, and inside this state-of-the-art facility sits a leadership team that oversees an array of overlapping medical and mental health services. This includes myself, as medical director, and Suzanne Kemp, PsyD, our director of psychological services.

Our teams work closely to support students, and we recognize the strong link between physical and mental health.

Together, we focus on all aspects of student life—from sleep to self-care to social connections—and engage in rigorous professional development to ensure the best care possible under any circumstance. We know that the pandemic, racial and economic disparities, and increased mental health challenges have only heightened students’ needs. Therefore, it’s increasingly crucial for us to recognize the issues and traumas that affect adolescents and to frame our care in a thoughtful, culturally responsive manner.

Innovative, Student-Centered Initiatives

Toward that end, our Sykes Wellness Center initiatives include a comprehensive care delivery model rooted in lifestyle medicine principles. In spring 2020, we debuted Big Blue Be Well. The program is centered on the six pillars of lifestyle medicine (sleep health, stress-reduction, healthy relationships, physical movement, nutrition, and the avoidance of risky substances)—and more—through prevention education, increased social media engagement, and collaborative activities, including those sponsored in dorms.

In addition, several student clubs are focused on student and community wellness with mentorship and assistance from the Sykes Wellness Center team. These include Students in Medicine, Sykes Medical Initiative, Active Minds, and Peer Listeners.

Opportunities for Impact

Big picture, we always aim to look after our students as inclusively as possible and level the playing field in terms of access to care. We know it takes a village. It’s been gratifying to me—a physician passionate about educating adolescents on healthy life skills—to see donors investing in our efforts.

Particularly now, there is very real need for philanthropy across the breadth of our work. Our Rx Fund, initially established by the Class of 1966 during its 50th Reunion, advances student-driven initiatives as well as programs that promote student well-being. Donors can also give to the Health and Wellness Fund. It bolsters 24/7 medical services, health education, campuswide professional development in critical wellness topics, our Big Blue Be Well efforts, meditation and yoga programming, and other far-reaching endeavors. There are myriad ways to have an impact, and we appreciate any and all gifts. I see them making an immediate and meaningful difference every day.

I believe the founders of Phillips Academy charged us with not only providing the education of “youth from every quarter,” but also caring for them too. We watch over our students in a collaborative way. They are the changemakers, tomorrow’s leaders. We want to make sure they’re the best health advocates for themselves and for those around them, now and well into the future. And to see the entire Andover community supporting that is inspiring.

To make a healthy difference, visit andover.edu/forhealth or contact Nicole Cherubini, director of development, at [email protected].

Originally printed in The Vista: Views from the Knowledge & Goodness Campaign, fall 2021.

Categories: Campaign News

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