Psychiatrist’s $1.8M grant funds research on UVM student wellness program

Do UVM's Wellness Environment and Hudziak's app improve wellbeing in students?

Psychiatrist Jim Hudziak, MD is the creator and director of the UVM Wellness Environment (WE), a university-wide, neuroscience-based behavior change program that includes a residential component. WE students are given incentives and resources to help them use fitness, mindfulness, nutrition and relationship tools to mirror four pillars of wellness: fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and WE Relate.

As part of the WE environment, students learn how the college experience affects their brains and bodies – and how the choices they make play an important role. Hudziak launched the WE program two years ago. Since then, enrollment has grown from 120 to over 1,200.

Hudziak, a professor, chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families at UVM Medical Center and the Larner College of Medicine, has received a $1.8 million grant from the Conrad Hilton Foundation to determine if the UVM Wellness Environment, combined with a health promotion and disease-prevention app he developed, will promote wellness among college students and reduce their use of alcohol and other drugs.

The grant will also be used to test the effectiveness of the screening/brief intervention/referral-to-treatment model designed to help students who are abusing alcohol and other drugs adopt healthier behaviors. “Our hope,” said Hudziak, “is that the research program will provide educators around the country with evidence they’ll find useful in promoting health and reducing alcohol and drug use on their own campuses.”

Working to prevent mental illness

Jim Hudziak, MD, has also been presented with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACP) 2017 Irving Phillips Award for Prevention

The award recognizes a child and adolescent psychiatrist and AACAP member who has made significant contributions in a lifetime career or single seminal work to the prevention of mental illness in children and adolescents.