A dedicated school wellbeing space can give students and staff a place to recharge and reset when experiencing difficult emotions or challenging circumstances. A wellbeing room or “wellbeing center” can be a great place to implement many of the wellbeing interventions for students included in this resource. Though wellbeing centers are gaining popularity in schools, evidence regarding their effectiveness and impact remains limited. However, some schools have begun reporting some positive outcomes. An elementary school in the Western U.S. found that within the first 90 days of having the wellbeing room, office referrals for disruptive behavior dropped by 40% (Fox13 News, 2021). Additionally, within those first 90 days, the wellbeing center had over 2,500 visits from students, indicating that it is a popular intervention among students (Fox13 News, 2021). These results are promising and we expect more comprehensive research to be forthcoming.
Wellbeing Center Resources
Community Education Channel Wellness Center Series: This is a three-part video series on the implementation of school wellness centers at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Videos include examples of wellness center set-up, activities, as well as student and staff anecdotes regarding wellness center use.
The following three resources include examples of various wellbeing and calming centers in place in schools, as well as suggestions for implementation:
High School Peace Rooms
- Funding(estimates for some centers range from 10-20,000 US dollars, but this can vary depending on materials used).
Possible materials include:
- Sensory toys
- Playdoh or Theraputty
- Sand timers
- Weighted blanket
- Drawing and coloring supplies
- Headphones and electronic devices to listen to calming music or guided meditations
- Comfortable furniture
- Large pillows or beanbag chairs
||Set up may require a few months. Students are intended to spend about 10 minutes at a time in the wellness center throughout the school year.
- Determine where the wellbeing center will be in your school.
- Clear out classroom furniture if applicable, and purchase more comfortable, welcoming furniture. The wellness center is intended to have a more home-like feel rather than be a classroom.
- Purchase sensory tools and other supplies. Seek additional funding if necessary.
- Hire someone to assist with setting up, as well as to supervise the center when completed.
- Set center rules (how long students can be in the wellbeing center and how often, how many students per class can be in the wellness center at a time, etc.)
- Once set-up is completed, train staff and faculty on how you intend the wellbeing center to be used.
- Finish setting up the room and create classroom passes for wellbeing center use.
- Hold a parent and student orientation meeting or open house to introduce the center.
- Open the wellbeing center and track use during the school year.
Does it work?
Recently, Moya and colleagues (2022) published a research study on a high school wellness center in Utah, U.S.A serving 2,340 students. About a third of students and staff responded to surveys regarding their use of and perceptions of the wellness center. About 5% of student parents/guardians were also interviewed. A strong positive correlation was found between wellness center use and student success in school. Parents, staff and students all reported that students were more focused in class after visiting the center(Moya et al., 2022). Students and teachers also reported that use of the wellness center seemed to significantly improve students’ mood. Students reported using the wellness center to reduce stress and anxiety, cope with depression, and experience calm and relaxation. The wellness center was also most frequented by students from traditionally marginalized groups, such as genderqueer students and students of color(Moya et al., 2022). This is important as many students from these groups tend to face increased stressors, such as an inferior sense of belonging, bullying and greater adjustment difficulties (Bottani et al., 2017; Tooney et al., 2012). One concern is that a significant number of students felt a degree of embarrassment over visiting the center(Moya et al., 2022). Creating a positive and welcoming culture and reducing stigma around wellness center use at your school may be necessary to successfully improve student wellbeing.
Bottani, J. H., Bradshaw, C. P., & Mendelson, T. (2017). A multilevel examination of racial disparities in high school discipline: Black and white adolescents’ perceived equity, school belonging, and adjustment problems. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(4), 532–545. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000155.supp
CASEL. (2020). TOOL: Create a high school peace room. https://schoolguide.casel.org/uploads/sites/2/2020/11/2020.11.10_High-School-Peace-Rooms_FINAL.pdf
Fox13. (2021, August 17). Utah school district puts more emphasis on student mental health with wellness room. https://www.fox13now.com/news/local-news/utah-school-district-puts-more-emphasis-on-student-mental-health-with-wellness-room
MindPeace. (n.d.) MindPeace rooms. https://mindpeacecincinnati.com/mindpeace-rooms/
MindPeace. (n.d.) Calming spaces. http://mindpeacecincinnati.com/wp-content/uploads/General-Calming-Space-Info-3.pdf
Moya, M.S., Caldarella, P., Larsen, R.A.A., Warren, J.S., Bitton, J.R. & Feyereisen, P.M. (2022). Addressing adolescent stress in school: Perceptions of a high school wellness center. Education and Treatment of Children, 45, 277-291. https://doi.org/10.1007/s43494-022-00079-1
Toomey, R. B., McGuire, J. K., & Russell, S. T. (2012). Heteronormativity, school climates, and perceived safety for gender nonconforming peers. Journal of Adolescence, 35(1), 187–196. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2011.03.001
Wimmer, D. (2020, February 14). Utah schools using innovative approach to improve student mental health. KSL TV. https://ksltv.com/427242/utah-schools-using-innovative-approach-to-improve-student-mental-health/