WE COACH provides peer-to-peer help for students

Erin O'Neill, Reporter

Wellness Educators Creating Opportunities and Casting Hope, or WE COACH, is program that was created in 2018. Although the service had only nine appointments in the fall semester, Elisabeth Cavallaro, coordinator for student mental health wellness, said she hopes students will take advantage of the program.

WE COACH is a cost-free, peer-to-peer coaching service provided through Wellness and Prevention Services. It consists of undergraduate students trained in motivational interviewing, which allows them to help students on a one-on-one basis with their wellness goals. Coaches are trained by Cavallaro.

Students and their coach meet in a public location on campus for a 30-minute session as often as the student would like. Cavallaro said the direction of the session is up to the students, but she wants to make it clear that the sessions are not counseling.

“When I talk to students, that’s when I wish they knew — that this is not a service for those who are on the brink of not being able to cope with what’s going on in college life,” Cavallaro said.

WE COACH is for help with issues such as not getting enough sleep or time management skills, Cavallaro said.

The students track their goals to make sure progress is made in sessions with the coaches.

“If the coach feels like the student isn’t really making any progress toward their goal, at that point there would be a conversation about another resource that would be a better fit for you, because we do want to see the students actually improve in their wellness,” Cavallaro said.

WE COACH helps students identify achievable goals and take action steps. Unlike counseling, WE COACH is less talking about what’s happened in the past that led them to need this particular goal in their lives, Cavallaro said.

Senior philosophy and psychology major Christopher Kennedy is a coach, and he explained that one of the program’s goals is “to empower students to make their own change and take control in their own lives.”

Cavallaro said through peer education with students who have experienced similar struggles, they form a connection that sometimes a student and professional can’t make. The coaches refer students to resources and are encouraged to connect students with services outside of WE COACH and Wellness and Prevention Services, like the dean of students or another student organization. 

“If a student meets with another student and that’s the gateway to them making a connection with a professional, that’s also something we’re hoping comes out of this,” Cavallaro said.

Kennedy said he would encourage anyone who is interested in guiding others to consider participating in WE COACH.

“It’s a beautiful thing and we need more people who are willing to help each other.  I mean, on whatever scale, big or small, humans aren’t going to go far if we don’t help each other and I think that’s what this is about,” Kennedy said.