West Virginia University’s WELLWVU continues to educate students through a health and wellness peer mentoring program called the leadWELL campaign.

WELLWVU’s Office of Wellness and Health Promotion developed the leadWELL program as a way for WVU’s student leaders to have a positive impact on the health behaviors and wellness attitudes of their peers. The program, in its second year, will be presented at the 2012 NASPA Student Affairs Administrations in Higher Education Mental Health Conference. The program has also been submitted to be presented at the 2012 American College Health Association Conference.

“The leadWELL program is an excellent way for students to help shift the culture on this campus and around the great state of West Virginia,” said Jesse Michel, WELLWVU graduate assistant and leadWELL program coordinator. “We envision a time in the near future where leadWELL mentors can be identified throughout their residence halls. We want students to know that it’s OK to be healthy, and that there are free resources around campus if they want to live a happier and healthier lifestyle.”

In 2010-11, 114 students went through the leadWELL training program. This year, there are 155 leadWELL mentors across campus comprised of WVU student-athletes, members of the International House and students in residential halls.

These students lead conversations with peers as a way to promote healthy behaviors. Mentors are given a blue and white leadWELL wristband to show they are trained peer leaders. leadWELL mentors have been trained in how to identify behaviors across several topic areas: Alcohol and other drug use, stress and sleep issues, sexual health, relationship and dating violence, diversity issues and body image and nutrition concerns.

Each year, students are identified by residence hall leadership teams as peer leaders and invited to an information session. From those sessions, leadWELL mentors are chosen to be a part of the student-led health and wellness initiative. Each residence hall has its own leadWELL team made up of mentors and a leadWELL trainer. The trainers are graduate students working for or affiliated with WELLWVU and are responsible for leading their hall training session.

The interactive and experiential training teaches students to engage in health-related dialogue with their peers. The training includes identification of positive and negative health behaviors, leadership, communication strategies and campus resources that support health. Trained leadWELL mentors agree to take on the responsibility to speak to their friends and peers about health-related issues whenever they feel comfortable doing so.

“There is a direct correlation between how knowledgeable students are about campus resources and their physical, emotional, and mental health,” Michel said. “The program is designed to encourage student leaders to have effective conversations with their peers about positive health behaviors.”

The program has been implemented in all 12 residence halls, I-House, and the Student Athletic Advisory Committee.



CONTACT: Colleen Harshbarger, WELLWVU
304-293-3574, Colleen.Harshbarger@mail.wvu.edu

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.