Elon continuing focus on Act-Belong-Commit framework and mental wellness

The Act-Belong-Commit Framework encourages members of the Elon community to be active, resilient and mentally healthy citizens engaged in meaningful and purposeful commitments in their communities and around the world.

Not everything has been put on hold during this period of social distancing. Elon’s Council on Wellness and Well-Being has continued its commitment to promoting the Act-Belong-Commit Framework throughout the campus community.

The ABC Framework encourages community members to keep active – physically socially, mentally, culturally and spiritually (Act); stay connected to friends and family or get involved in groups and local community activities (Belong); and commit to a cause by volunteering, learning new skills or taking on new challenges (Commit). The framework has already taken many virtual forms as students, faculty and staff continue the semester away from campus.

“I think it’s such a dynamic framework that it’s going to constantly change how we engage and interact with the Elon community – that is an advantage,” said Caroline Ketcham, professor of exercise science and chair of the Department of Exercise Science.

The ABC Framework aims to build and inspire a culture of positive mental health and holistic well-being. The pillars are more important now than ever while the Elon community is physically away from campus.

“We had such an abrupt halt to everything as we were moving into one of the busiest months on the calendar,” said Director of Campus Recreation and Wellness Larry Mellinger. “Folks moved from having so many different things to do every day to completely changing how we live, learn, socialize and prioritize.”

Mellinger says a way for individuals to continue practicing Act-Belong-Commit is to find ways to create routines at home while navigating the online learning model and its many systems.

To help the community establish routines at home, the university has developed a number of resources to help students, faculty and staff continue to practice positive habits that promote mental wellness. Elon’s Community Building team has introduced the Elon Staying Connected initiative, transforming several campus traditions and events into virtual experiences to keep the campus community engaged. Elon Counseling Services also offered a variety of resources to help students near and far from campus during this period of online learning. Campus Recreation and Wellness is also offering ways to stay physically active while at home.

This time away from campus can also be an opportunity to reevaluate all the things you have on your plate, Ketcham says.

“Right now, for many, there is more time, but there are several of us who find less time because of the overlap of all of our responsibilities,” said Ketcham. “It’s really about refocusing on ‘what are you committed to, what matters most, and how do you fit it all in?’”

Ketcham and Mellinger recommend considering your responsibilities and routines and determining which ones positively affect your mental wellness. And in your free time, try new skills or pick up old hobbies that bring you joy. Then, find ways to incorporate those positive actions into your daily life once schedules return to normal.

“I think when we return this fall, we should consider how we might come back to campus and not immediately over-commit ourselves,” Mellinger said. “We can leverage this opportunity to stop and pause, so that when life accelerates again we find a way to do the things that we need to do, while continuing to prioritize activities we enjoy and that make us physically and mentally healthy.”

For more information about Act-Belong-Commit at Elon and ways to practice habits that promote mental wellness during this period of social distancing, visit the ABC Framework website.