College students can easily feel overloaded and anxious when trying to balance school, work, friends and family while also trying to determine their futures, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Because of this, University of Nebraska-Lincoln sophomore Peyton Walker decided to lead a group of peer-coaching students who could help other students with everyday struggles. Big Red Resilience strives to make students feel like they are heard and to be a resource to those who feel intimidated by going to professionals.
Walker was selected to be a part of the Freshman Campus Leadership Associates last year. FCLA is an appointed group of 20 freshman who serve as a liaison between the freshman class, Association of Students of the University of Nebraska and the Lincoln community.
Appointees work with student government, network with other freshman, develop leadership skills, assemble future involvement, foster relationships with students and create projects to benefit the university. This organization encouraged Walker to lead her project, and she took it on at full speed.
“I knew stigmatizing mental health was a problem on campus,” Walker said. “Everyone has struggles with situations in their life and need people to talk to. But I also know that some don’t have strong support systems, and [so I] wanted to create this”
After being referred to five or six administrators, UNL’s Counseling and Psychological Services introduced her to Connie Boehm, the new director of Big Red Resilience and Well-Being. Boehm agreed with Walker’s sentiments and reasoning for starting the project, and together, the two are planning to train 27 students to become well-being coaches this fall.
Students who are interested in becoming coaches are required to take a class, and applications will be available in October. The program’s main goal is to inform how helping people on campus is meaningful.
“It is important because being able to bounce back after challenges and disappointments is how we learn and grow,” Boehm said.
This semester, Boehm and Walker will be delivering a variety of workshops. They are also planning on having a gratitude day, where they want people to realize how grateful they are for what they have. This could ultimately improve the state of mind on mental health and cut back on stereotypes.
Whether or not someone is suffering from a diagnosed mental illness or is just having a bad day, Big Red Resilience will begin counseling in the spring semester. Its office will be located in Room 127 of the new University Health Center and College of Nursing on N 19th street, between S and Vine streets.
“We want students to be able to walk in and have less pressure,” Walker said. “Our message is to make it clear that we hear them and are here for them.”