The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

DVC’s New “Happy Class” Promotes Student Well Being


In recent years, counselor Raine Dougan has noticed mental health becoming a bigger struggle for college students. So when she saw the success that a so-called “happy class” was having at prominent universities around the country, she pushed for it to be offered at Diablo Valley College as well.

“The full title is Student Strategies for Happiness and Well Being,” said Dougan, a faculty member in counseling at DVC who helped launch the new course this semester. “But in class we all call it the ‘happy class.’”

According to BestColleges, more than half of college students say they’ve experienced a decline in their mental health in recent years, and more than three-quarters have experienced moderate to severe psychological distress.

The National Education Association reports that more than 60 percent of college students now meet the criteria for at least one mental health issue — nearly a 50 percent rise since 2013.

“Every year I watch more students come to us with more mental health challenges,” said Dougan in a recent interview with The Inquirer.

“The data really justifies the need for some more mental health support, and I really wanted to bring it into our curriculum.”

The course Dougan helped initiate, called Counseling 125: Student Strategies for Happiness and Wellbeing, is modeled on similar, popular “happiness classes” now featured at a range of top schools, from Yale and Harvard to UC Berkeley.

According to Dougan, more than 3.7 million students nationwide have enrolled in happiness classes since Yale offered the first course in 2017, initiating the trend.

Dougan began her efforts to start offering the class at DVC in 2017 as well, but “it has taken this long until I actually can teach it,” she said.

Now, the happiness class she’s instructing this semester represents the first course of its kind being offered at a California community college.

On a weekly basis, students learn about different aspects of happiness, do their own research on components of well being, and practice multiple “happiness strategies.”

“Every week we go through a different research-backed strategy for well being,” from social connection to gratitude, said Dougan.

And importantly, the 3-unit course is both UC and CSU transferable.

“The goal is for [students] to leave the class with tools to live a happy life and navigate challenges to find more joy,” said Dougan.

“I believe everyone should have skills for their own resilience and well being.”

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Dan Rosaia, Staff Writer

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