MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Northern Michigan University committed itself to making wellness and health a priority, meant to benefit faculty, staff, and students. Northern’s President Brock Tessman signed The Okanagan Charter, a clear framework for making health promotion part of everyday life on Wednesday.

Defining health and wellness is difficult because it touches every facet of someone’s life, both on campus and off campus. The Okanagan Charter represents a commitment by Northern to invest in the well-being of everyone within the NMU community, so much so that the university is building a wellness center on the northwest corner of campus. NMU President Brock Tessman and Abigail Wyche, Special Advisor for Wellness say this is the beginning of a community-wide effort.

“Today marks a very important step forward in Northern’s commitment to promoting health and wellbeing across our campus in the local community and globally through the signing of the Okanagan charter,” said Tessman. “So Northern Michigan University is the 17th university in the entire country to sign on to the Okanagan Charter.”

“We are preparing all of our employees, our faculty, and our staff to be comfortable talking about mental health and to supporting students when they encounter situations where they need help,” said Wyche. “So, we’re really committed to making sure that folks know what to do when students come to them. We’re providing lots of training, about having those hard conversations with students, and then connecting them with the resources that are available to help them through whatever situation hard times that they’re facing.”

Wyche went on to say that awareness of the charter and the resources available, is step one. Once people are aware of the spirit behind the charter, then health professionals can start working on individual’s health care needs.