This past week I was given the opportunity to attend the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) strategies conference in San Francisco, California with two other Peer Wellness Coaches on campus. Since our work largely deals with peer education and student health and wellness, the conference was the perfect opportunity for us to network with other students and professionals in the field, learn more about current research developments surrounding student substance use and mental health and wellbeing, and to brainstorm with other peer educators about programming and program development. Of course, all that aside, anyone would be crazy to pass up an opportunity to visit California when back here on the hill it’s below freezing and snowing!
Not only did we learn a lot from all of the presentations and speakers that were present, but we also got to do a little sightseeing!
My favorite presentations of the conference were “Can’t We Like… Talk: Women’s Peer Support of Mental Health” and “Associations between Substance Use and mental Health: Prevention Opportunities and the Power of Peers.” The former of these presentations was the conclusion of a study examining how women negotiate mental health and boundaries with their peers from a feminist poststructural perspective, and the latter centered around recent studies about substance use on college campus, the legalization of marijuana and its effects on the student population, and ways to combat drinking cultures on campuses.
Heading back into the semester now with a jam-packed schedule of 5 classes, work, and my co-curricular involvements, it’s time to implement everything I learned into my own life (especially regarding stress relief, self-care, and wellbeing practices)! Of course, my fellow travelers and I will also have the opportunity to discuss and present what we learned to the various peer education groups on campus (including SWEET, COPE, RPEs, and SHAPE) and get to work creating positive change on campus!