The Office of Student Affairs and the Student Government Association (SGA) recently hosted PCOM’s first-ever Wellness Week, a weeklong series of activities designed to promote health and wellness among the student body and the campus community at large.
The slate of events included a pet therapy session in the Student Activities Center; a yoga class; a Quizzo competition; an arts and crafts session with coloring, drawing and origami; a healthy cooking demonstration with Budd Cohen, director of dining services; a lecture on motivation and self-compassion with Scott Glassman, PsyD ’13, clinical associate professor, psychology and associate director of the MS program in Mental Health Counseling; and a jam session, where attendees were encouraged to try out a new musical instrument.
The week was designed to help relieve stress and attempt to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues that is often found among medical students. The week was co-sponsored by PCOM Wellness, and all events were open to faculty and staff as well.
“There have been pockets of activity all around campus which focus on wellness,” said Ruth Conboy, LPC, NCC, a counselor in the Office of Student Affairs. “We felt an event like this could was a good way to tap into those existing resources and bring them together under one umbrella.” She and John Costa, associate director for Campus Life, worked to identify the various groups and develop the week’s programming.
At the beginning of the week, participants filled out cards with wellness pledges, which had goals they hoped to achieve, and at the wrap-up on Friday, they revisited the cards to see if they had been able to meet those goals. Research shows that providing information about healthy behaviors isn’t enough; goal-setting is incredibly helpful and effective in affecting behavioral change.
“We wanted to show that there were tangible things that could be done to help improve mood and relieve stress,” Ms. Conboy said. “These are things that can be easily replicated on their own time, and take just a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment.”
Kang (Sol) Han (MS/Biomed ’16), chair of the SGA Senate, said she participated in a similar event while an undergraduate at Penn State, and wanted to implement it here at PCOM. She worked with Mr. Costa and Ms. Conboy to coordinate the week’s efforts, and she says these types of events—which she, Ms. Conboy and Mr. Costa hope will be annual—can be helpful for all students at the graduate level and above.
“Many of us in health care are focused on taking care of others, but we need to take care of ourselves first,” she says. “Thinking you can’t ask for help when you’re stressed out can make the problem worse. We’re trying to create a more open mindset among students so that they know it’s ok to ask for help if they need it.”
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine has trained more than 15,000 highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach, treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM offers the doctor of osteopathic medicine, doctor of pharmacy and doctor of psychology degrees and graduate programs in mental health counseling, school psychology, physician assistant studies, forensic medicine, organizational development and leadership, and biomedical sciences. Our students learn the importance of health promotion, education and service to the community and, through PCOM’s Healthcare Centers, provide care to the medically underserved populations in inner city and rural locations.
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