Greg's Writings

The Importance of Peer Mentorship in Wellness Programming

Jan 24, 2023 | Pathway #3 - Integrative Approach to Health/Wellness | 0 comments

Two students stand side-by-side at freshman move-in day outside

By Adam Pace, Pathway 3 Catalyst & Director of Be Well BU

An integrative approach to health and well-being encompasses far more than someone’s physical health and is vitally important to the student experience. College is a time where many students form lifelong habits that will determine how they live as adults. Not only do we want students to earn a degree while at Belmont, but we also want to equip them with habits to know how to care for themselves and others in a holistic way.

Through this integration, we join nine areas together to create a comprehensive definition of wellness—spiritual, cultural, emotional, occupational, physical, social, environmental, intellectual and financial wellness—housed within our signature Be Well BU program.

The word integrative takes on multiple meanings here: we are joining areas of wellness to work together, and we are also incorporating wellness into everything we do. To live a healthy life, wellness cannot be compartmentalized, and instead must be encompassed in all our actions.

Championing health and wellness for all is the bedrock of our strategic pathways and intersects beautifully with each. Without this priority, we cannot achieve the other areas that are important to us—character, social innovation and inclusion. Having a purpose in life connects strongly to one’s definition of wellness. Until we learn to fully care for ourselves, we cannot fully care for others. This is true in loving our neighbors and creating a place of belonging for all people.

Peer education and wellness coaching are cornerstones of developing important peer-to-peer connections, according to the American College Health Association. Peer educators serve to promote wellness through “changing environmental norms, expectations and behaviors related to a variety of health and wellness topics.” Wellness coaches develop one-on-one relationships to support students in attaining wellness goals.

Even without professional training, college students are far more likely to listen to their peers than they are adults. Leaning into this phenomenon, we’ve launched the Wellness Ambassador program within the Be Well BU program. Ambassadors are undergraduate students who lead peer education—primarily in their residence halls—with programming centered around Belmont’s nine dimensions of wellness. Wellness coaching is available through the work of the Office of Student Care and Support.

Helping to lead the overall wellness promotion effort is the University’s Well Board, comprised of faculty and staff representatives from each of the nine dimensions of wellness. The team has drafted a four-year framework to guide holistic wellness programming for each area with overall themes including:

  • Listening to self and others
  • Awareness of self in the world
  • Broader horizons of understanding
  • A season of thankfulness and openness
  • Goodwill towards self and others
  • Wellness in action
  • Holding tight to what is good
  • Wellness in our words

At Belmont, we know the value of each individual person. Our community members are whole people, created in the image of God, who we want to help live a fulfilled life. Our time with students is brief, but it is incredibly meaningful. Through this program, we are working to make the most of this valuable season, setting them up for a full and healthy life ahead.