National recognition has arrived for Mount Saint Mary’s student-led wellness initiative. In November 2019, the University’s peer wellness advocates were named Outstanding Peer Group of the Year by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) — the largest peer education group in the country. NASPA also invited the Mount to speak at its annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland, and share successful wellness strategies other schools could replicate.
Creating a student-driven paradigm for wellness was exactly what the University’s community envisioned when Mount Saint Mary’s launched the Healthy Healthcare Provider program in 2016. Funded by the UniHealth and Riordan Foundations, the program provides health sciences majors with intensive wellness training, empowering them to teach and inspire other students to practice healthy habits through workshops, one-on-one coaching, stress management trainings and fitness activities.
“Being a peer wellness advocate has helped me learn how to take care of myself so I can better take of others,” says Estrella Lobos ’20, a nursing student. “Now I can authentically empower my patients to take control of their own health and wellness.”
With 60 percent of the University’s graduates working in high-stress healthcare-related fields, it is imperative to equip students with healthy lifestyle practices and better coping skills so they can model wellness for their patients, clients and colleagues.
“The goal is to make healthy living a daily part of student life,” says the Mount’s wellness director Alison Halpern, RD, CHES. “We’re empowering students to teach their peers about positive self-care, and how to effectively deal with their own stress and their own heath.”