Wolverine Support Network

Wolverine Support Network

Wolverine Support Network (WSN) is a sponsored student organization (SSO) housed under the University of Michigan’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). WSN fundamentally works to destigmatize and support the mental health of students, while holistically works to create a community based in inclusivity, safety, and love. WSN works toward this mission through weekly peer-­led support groups, as well as bi­-weekly social events. 

Website: umichwsn.org  

Their story

“WSN practices positivity three ways: celebrations, organizational transparency, and most importantly, their annual retreat.

Celebrations: At the beginning of each meeting, leaders of the meeting lead the group in celebrations, where they ask for people to celebrate something that is happening in their life.

Organizational Transparency: The director team works very hard in order to keep directors, leaders, and members as equal as possible. Directors hold office hours where members and leaders can come discuss anything they would like. Instead of directing and telling, they engage everyone in the conversation on how they can contribute to the success of the organization.

Annual Retreat: Each fall, their support group leaders participate in a weekend-­long bonding retreat. Retreat includes bonding, support group facilitator training, vulnerability activities, team­building activities, and relationship building. During this retreat, directors facilitate network building between the leaders and conduct activities that opens up leaders to being vulnerable in order to break down barriers and promote inclusivity. The goal here, is that the process of building connections between leaders can then be transferred to their individual support groups where members can also build relationships, continuing to build their community in a positive way. Additionally, at this retreat, everyone sits on the floor during activities. While this sounds simple, they have found that it promotes equality among the organization. This allows for everyone to be on a radically simple level where everyone is comfortable. They have found that the annual retreat is many of their leaders favorite part of WSN. This is where they make friends, become comfortable with the organization, and increase their trust of the director team.”

Their advice

“In order to replicate our annual retreat specifically, we would tell other organizations that the base of this practice is trust. When an organization establishes trust from the start, this leads to better “barrier­-breaking” while on retreat, and an increased willingness to participate in celebrating with other as well. Additionally, we would tell other organizations that in order to create positivity, it is essential to create a collaborative environment where organizational leadership is constantly asking the other managers/employees/members for feedback with regards to all facets of the organization. This will in turn also create community where people will feel comfortable and happy… Lastly, positivity must be a priority for the organization. It is not something that should be ignored or ever put on the back burner. By constantly questioning improvements, the organization will continue to inspire themselves to ensure positive practices that support the wellbeing of their employees/members.”

Submitted 2017