Young, who was recently appointed director of the Keck School Office of Wellness, also leads the Keck Wellness Council.
By Sarah Nightingale
People are naturally motivated to do their best work when their emotional, physical, financial, social, and spiritual needs are reasonably met, and they feel safe to be their full selves at work or at school.
Those are the words of Chantal Young, PhD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and the behavioral sciences, who was recently appointed director of the Keck School Office of Wellness. In July, Young also assumed leadership of the Keck Wellness Council (KWC), a position she took on following the retirement of Kathe Nelson, MD, associate dean for leadership and wellness.
Through these roles, Young joins several others in leading wellness efforts at KSOM, including Steven Siegel, MD, PhD, chief mental health and wellness officer at Keck Medicine of USC; Jeffrey I. Gold, PhD, director of the USC Institute of Integrative Health & Medicine; and Tobi Fishel, PhD, USC/LAC+USC GME Residency wellness director.
Created in December 2018, the KWC aims to introduce the concept of wellbeing at the Keck School and design and implement best practices. The KWC has launched several wellbeing programs for the community on topics such as yoga, mindfulness, and healthy eating, all of which were announced through a weekly Well-Being Advisory. Approximately 30 well-being leaders and champions across Keck schools, departments, and divisions now serve on the council.
In 2020, KWC members shifted gears to address the COVID-19 pandemic, distributing two community surveys to assess urgent wellbeing needs and developing several initiatives including the well-being toolkit and the Healthy Habits webinar series, in conjunction with the Center for Work & Family Life. In spring of 2020, the council also launched a wellness-centered leadership program for vice chairs and division chiefs, predicated on the finding that the wellbeing of the workforce is heavily impacted by the quality of direct-line leaders.
A clinical psychologist by training, Young has served as director of medical student wellness for the past five years. She is also supporting the Keck School’s efforts to merge wellbeing and diversity initiatives by serving on the JEDI-WeST (Justice through Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Well-being and Social Transformation) Committee. Young said the KWC is working on five projects to serve the wellbeing needs at Keck:
- A “road map” that schools, departments, and divisions can use to identify well-being concerns of their constituents and create yearly well-being goals
- Language for wellbeing qualities to be included in evaluation of leadership
- Email communication guidelines to improve work/life boundaries
- The potential for a No-Meetings-Fridays policy
- The investigation of healthy eating options and walking paths on campus
“There is tremendous need for well-being, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the transition between remote and in-person work, and a fresh awareness of racial injustices,” Young said. “KWC members are incredibly passionate and motivated to do this work to support the community.”