Creating a culture of health is a continuous process and includes finding opportunities to ensure people have access to options that make it easier to live a healthy life.

During National Public Health Week (in April), we asked our students, faculty and staff to tell us how we can improve the culture of health at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. We are actively growing our initiative based on the responses.

Mental Health and Wellness

The Heels Care Network is a gateway for mental health and wellness resources for everyone on campus: to find a support group, learn strategies for mental health, connect with training and advocacy organizations, or find wellness events on campus. The Heels Care Network also includes support resources for community members who are not doing well and are seeking immediate help.

Learn more about the “Eight Dimensions of Wellness
Learn more about “Creating a Healthy Life

The Carolina Collaborative for Resilience (CCR) provides caring and compassionate support by pairing students with Resilience Coaches. We aim to provide the individualized support that each student needs to thrive at every level of our campus. We are a team of diverse faculty and staff who have received specialized training to help students cope with challenges related to identity, race, belonging, and resilience. For more information about CCR visit

Home Environments for Wellness Book Club and Peer Support Pod

A plant sits on a window sill.

A healthy home environment supports mental health and wellness.

Our Home Environments for Wellness Book Club and Peer Support Pod meets based on participant availability. Contact with your interest and availability.

Our home environment plays an important role in our overall well-being. We spend most of our time indoors and lately, for many of us, this has been primarily at home. Let’s support each other as we reassess the state of our home environments and create more inspired spaces that support our mental health and wellness. We’ll learn about some common themes in design and wellness, read a book that will guide us through our individual home assessments, and share each other’s expertise and experience, as we support each other in carrying out our individual projects.

Get Creative to Boost Wellness

A 2016 study on creativity “showed that people who were engaged in more creative activities than usual on one day reported increased positive emotion and flourishing the next day, while negative emotions didn’t change. However, the reverse effect did not seem to occur: People who experienced higher positive emotions on day one weren’t more involved in creative activities on day two, suggesting that everyday creativity leads to more well-being rather than the other way around.”


General Resources
The Mindfulness Center at UNC
Your Wellness Matters – 5 Tips for Wellness and Self-Care
Mindful UNC

Employee Resources
OHR Wellness Resources during COVID-19
Work/Life & Wellness Programs
Employee Assistance Program

Student Resources
Wellness Coaching and One-on-One Services
Gillings Virtual Student Engagement
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
Koru Mindfulness
UNC COVID-19 Student Care Hub

Downloadable Apps (and app)
Headspace app
Insight Timer app
Pzizz app
Sleep with Me podcasts
Moshi Twilight (for children)

Mindfulness Self-Compassion Sessions
In this time, which is so challenging for all of us, take a few moments to nurture yourself. The Well-Being Program, in partnership with the Department of Psychiatry, is offering free virtual 20-minute mindfulness sessions to reduce stress and foster strength and resilience.

As you reach out in your compassion to others, make sure to give yourself care and compassion as well. You deserve it. Contact Jennifer Tauber at for the schedule, WebEx information, an Outlook invite or questions.

Sleep has a significant impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. Download and listen to this 20-minute talk on why we sleep, how we sleep and how to sleep better!


COVID Coping: Eating well and Eating Easy

Recorded Webinar (Zoom)
Presentation Slides (Google Drive)
Handout (Google Drive)

Melissa Walter, MPH, RDN, LDN
Program Specialist, Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health

It can be challenging to find the time and energy to prepare healthy foods even on the best of days. For many of us, COVID-19 has added additional levels of stress—food sourcing, cleaning, storing and preparing safely can all be challenging and time-consuming. Join us to talk about ways to simplify, save time, and eat well while we choose and prepare foods that satisfy our COVID-19 cravings!

COVID-19 and Nutrition

Due to self-quarantines and social distancing, we thought it would be a great opportunity to answer some common food and nutrition questions related to our current food environment. Please read more (PDF) from Melissa Walter, LDN in the Gillings School Nutrition Department.

Mindful Musings: Holiday Eating with Intention

Anna Claire Tucker, MPH-RD Candidate, Department of Nutrition, Gillings School

A boy holds an apple and wishes for chocolate.

A mindful meal is a healthy meal.

Think back to the best thing you ever ate. You can probably describe it in vivid detail. Mine has to be my grandmother’s blackberry cobbler: the soft golden crust, juicy blackberries, and cool Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on a warm summer evening. Memories like these stick with us because we were immersed in the experience, but how often are you truly immersed in your meal? No television, no emails, no homework, no social media. Many of us may struggle to remember a meal without distractions. An undistracted meal seems radical in a society that idolizes busyness. Booked schedules and multi-tasking are seemingly synonymous with hard work and our own self-worth. Yet an undistracted meal—a mindful meal—matters. Regardless of what we eat, how we eat is just as important. Read more/less.

This concept is nothing new. Rooted in Buddhist teachings, mindful eating encourages observing our experiences with food using an open and non-judgmental mindset1. Unlike strict weight loss plans or fad diets, mindful eating is not about perfection, achievement, or even the outcome. It is simply a process, a new way of experiencing and thinking about food2. As we step out of a challenging election cycle and into an unpredictable holiday season, mindful eating offers us the opportunity to slow down, center ourselves, and rediscover the joy of eating.

Mindful eating can be broken down into 4 core principles1:

  • Developing an awareness of physical hunger and fullness cues
  • Slowing down and minimizing distractions
  • Savoring food using all five senses
  • Acknowledging feelings about food without judgment

Becoming aware of our eating choices is the first step towards mindful eating. The next time you reach for food, ask yourself: “Why? What do I feel physically and emotionally? Am I really hungry?” You might be, but you might just be bored, stressed, or procrastinating. You may reach for food from habit or because the people around you are eating. Whatever your reason, mindful eating does not dictate whether or not you eat. Instead, it asks us to make a decision not governed by habit or impulse. So if you still want the cookie, take it…just know why you did.

You probably remember scarfing down a sandwich while typing on a computer, only to realize the sandwich is gone and you’re still unsatisfied. Or maybe you don’t remember, because hurried, distracted eating is such a frequent routine in contemporary life. Mindful eating calls us to slow down and minimize these distractions. Though it isn’t about the outcome, this can have practical benefits.

Studies have shown mindful eating can decrease overeating and emotional eating3. Specifically, slowing down and focusing helps us manage stress and reduces eating in response to external cues such as package size and social setting3. These cues constantly shape our eating choices. We cannot change many of them, but we can increase our awareness which enables us to make conscious, autonomous choices less influenced by external forces.

In the coming weeks, give mindful eating a try. Slow down. Savor your food. Contemplate every sight, sound, flavor, texture, and aroma. Whatever thoughts and feelings arise, acknowledge these, but resist the urge to judge them or yourself because of them. While we can’t muse over mac n cheese for 20 minutes every day, we can bring awareness to our actions and find peace with all food choices.

If we are fortunate enough to have adequate access to food, eating should not be a source of stress, contention, or guilt. Mindful eating is an opportunity to set aside those negative feelings and develop a more positive relationship with food. Who knows, with a little bit of mindfulness, your morning cereal might just be the next best thing you ever ate.

  1. “The Center for Mindful Eating – Principles of Mindful Eating.” Accessed November 7, 2020.
  2. Nelson, Joseph B. “Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat.” Diabetes Spectrum : A Publication of the American Diabetes Association 30, no. 3 (August 2017): 171–74.
  3. Warren, Janet M., Nicola Smith, and Margaret Ashwell. “A Structured Literature Review on the Role of Mindfulness, Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating in Changing Eating Behaviours: Effectiveness and Associated Potential Mechanisms.” Nutrition Research Reviews 30, no. 2 (December 2017): 272–83.

Stay Active!

Culture of Health Classes (Online)

Gentle Yoga with Gillings
Beginning 0n 02/02/2020
Mondays: 12:00 p.m. ET (30 minutes)
Mondays and Wednesdays: 5:15-6:00 p.m. ET (45 minutes)
Virtual until further notice
Please contact if you would like to join a class.

Gillings School Walking Group
Fit in some exercise and connect with colleagues – all students, faculty, and staff are welcome!
Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00a.m. for 30 minutes
Meet at the Pittsboro Street entrance for a walk around the
neighborhood or campus.

Gillings School Walking Map

Plan a walking meeting or take a short break with timed walking maps for routes around UNC Gillings (PDF).

Around Campus

The UNC Wellness Center exercise videos
Campus Rec on-demand workouts, yoga apps and other wellness resources

In the Triangle

Triangle Resources Map
This interactive map displays recreation locations around the Triangle area (trails, parks, fitness centers, etc.).

Culture of Health Recipes

Experiment with easy recipes for delicious, healthy snacks. See our recipes.

What We’re Listening to and Reading

Coming soon!

Webinars and Articles

Understanding and Preventing Suicide: What you can do to help
Jodi Flick, LCSW, ACSW
Recorded Webinar (Zoom)
Presentation Slides (PDF)
Local Mental Health Resources (PDF)
Apex Cert Mental Health Resources (PDF)
Recommended Reading (PDF)

World Food Day – October 16
#WorldFoodDay: Who are your #FoodHeroes? Learn more about Gillings food heroes that help to create a #cultureofhealth in our NC communities!

Well Said Interview on reducing stress through mindfulness with husband, father, faculty member and full-time student, Kessonga Giscombé