Peer Health Educators supress student stress

By Avery Stankus – 1851 Staff

The annual Stress-Free Fair was held on April 6 in de Witt Hall, hosted by Peer Health Educators to raise mental health awareness.  The event informed students on helpful life-coping and end-of-semester stress tips. The three-hour event provided students with dog therapy, painting, massages, and more. 

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Students enjoying the Stress-Free Fair by playing with the many therapy dogs. Photo by Katie Schneider

“One of the components of the event is normalizing that so many of us experience stress, so many of us experience mental health challenges, and that it’s okay. It’s a part of daily life,” said Peer Health Educators’ advisor Allison Whitcomb. 

“The Stress-Free Fair celebrates healthy coping, it celebrates community around that you can engage in these types of things with friends. It’s also a way we can provide these services in a much larger scale than, perhaps, a one-to-one counseling session.”

Between classes all day and pulling all-nighters, the average college student holds a lot of stress on their shoulders.Sophomore Ally Garriepy said the event was “…the perfect way to end a hectic week.” She continued the optimism saying, “Who wouldn’t want to spend their Friday petting corgis and getting a massage?”  

Sleeping, concentration, and a busy social life are only a few areas in which stress can impact someone. “It’s imperative to be able to relieve as much stress as possible. Having less stress can lead to more happiness, which is something I think every college student strives for,” said Peer Health mentor Abbey Coughlan.

This event allowed students to step back from their studies and immerse themselves in ways to de-stress with the help of peer health mentors. 

“Being a Peer Health Mentor is a rewarding experience,” said Coughlan. “We all work together to put on health events, theme days, interactive programs, and discussion groups to help our peers. By doing this, we are sharing our passion of healthy living and assisting others. It is a good feeling to know that students can be assets to other students when dealing with such serious topics.”

Peer Health Educators host various programs throughout the semester as a way for students to be aware of issues that impact them. This club engages in peer-to-peer education and programming around the topics of mental health, substance abuse, and sexual assault prevention. They host events such as The Vagina Monologues, Alcohol Awareness Week, and Fresh Check Day.

With the programs the club puts on, they’re helping students become more aware of their mental health and the importance behind it. “There’s this agency around your own mental health which can be really empowering. That’s something that if we can develop those skills for college students now, they can become life-long skills to lead healthy lives,” said Whitcomb.

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