Pomona Wellness Program Aims to Reduce Student Stress
Emily Diamond | April 7, 2017, 2:13 p.m.
While the end of the semester brings more sunlight and a fresh spring breeze, the end of the year can present mental health challenges and a greater need for wellness resources. To combat student stress, the Wellness program at Pomona College sends weekly emails to students that aid stress reduction.
“We send these emails to remind students they are strong, smart, and can get through difficult times,” Jan Collins-Eaglin, associate dean of students for personal success and wellness, said. “We are determined to send out these messages every week to help students remember that they have resources.”
In previous years, the wellness team has distributed flyers in residence halls about upcoming programs, but this year they are striving to send the message more effectively.
“We have had three deaths this semester, and that is really what has prompted the rise in conscientious effort,” Collins-Eaglin said. “People are impacted about what’s happening around them. It’s a shame on us if we don’t respond to these events.”
In addition to the added resources, Pomona responds to mental health concerns through Wellness Peers, a disability and mental health task force, and by referring students to Monsour counseling.
The Wellness program promotes wellness in its broadest sense, which includes physical, emotional, financial, environmental, spiritual, career/academic, and sociocultural wellness.
The program has collaborated with the McAllister Center for Religious Activities to provide programs around spirituality, supported a program that teaches students about what it means to be physically well, and has held exercise programs such as “Zumba after Dark.”
Upcoming events include a hike with the Outdoor Education Center, trip to the Pomona Art Museum, mental health awareness day with Monsour counselors, and a spa-themed event at the Hive.
In addition to the set programs, Collins-Eaglin emphasized the importance of informal help-seekers in improving wellness.
“One of the things that I feel is most dangerous during this time is going into your room, being isolated and not connecting with others,” she said. “Even if you’re feeling really stressed, connecting with somebody who cares about you is really important.”
Aliki Stogiannou PO ’19, a wellness peer, emphasized that though stress levels often increase during the end of the year, resources should be available at all times.
“You can’t just identify one period when there is a need for resources,” Stogiannou said.
Several staff members agree that Pomona can improve current resources.
“Monsour has added staff and we have responded to the recent deaths in numerous ways, but we could do better,” Collins-Eaglin said.
“The need is still outpacing our resources,” Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum wrote in an article to TSL.
Jasa Cocke, Drug and Alcohol Counselor, thinks that it would be beneficial to hire people who work with substance abuse and eating disorders to the Monsour services, though she stated that limited resources hinder this possibility.
“I want folks to remember that using drugs and/or drinking can be a part of somebody’s mental health. It breaks my heart when students under the influence go to therapy, get medications, and never talk about their underlying issues,” Cocke said.
Collins-Eaglin emphasized the importance of addressing mental health concerns.
“Mental health is a major issue in the United States, so this is not a unique experience,” she said. “The stress of our world, all the factors that lead to depression, we’re all in this together.”
Though mental health issues are extremely prevalent, they are often unnoticed, according to Stogiannou.
“Just because someone looks like they are doing okay doesn’t mean that they are doing okay,” Stogiannou said. “We should realize that impressions and prejudices can be very harmful when it comes to wellness.”
Collins-Eaglin advises students to talk to others, whether that is a Dean, someone in a residence hall, a faculty member, or a friend.
“Help is out there, so there is no reason that students should fall through the cracks,” Collins-Eaglin said. “That to me would be the biggest and saddest reality.”