It’s Wednesday again, which means a small group of students meet again to learn from Mental Health Counselors Angeli Montalbano and Moriah Davis. The topics for each week cover things like forming healthy habits, finding friends, meditation and mindfulness. This week’s topic is mindful eating, so the students are sharing their ideal healthy meal and who they would eat it with.
Davis and Montalbano shared tips from a colorful PowerPoint presentation. As therapists on staff at Point Loma Nazarene University’s Wellness Counseling Center, they are responsible for putting together the weekly psychoeducation meetings.
“Therapists at the Wellness Counseling Center have created the topic and materials covered
each week,” said Montalbano, in an email interview. “We have planned out material for each week to correspond with common themes on campus. For example, the first few weeks of the semester revolve around forming healthy habits, finding friends/community engagement, meditation and mindfulness.”
According to Davis and Montalbano, the aim of Wellness Wednesdays is to help students get resources tailored to their mental health in a welcoming space. That is why the topics are based on challenges commonly faced during the semester, like eating well and there’s space each week for students to reflect on their skills and how to improve them alongside peers.
“Focusing on mental health and self care are integral to overall wellness,” said Montalbano. “Our job as clinicians is to help students be successful in their academic journey. We’re here to offer tools that provide them the best chance at graduating not only with a degree from PLNU but a stronger sense of self and readiness to face the adult world with healthy coping skills.”
Wellness Wednesdays is just one of the programs that started since Jennifer King became the director of the Wellness Center. According to King, it was developed by the counseling team, including Montalbano and Davis, over the winter break and began this spring, along with PLNU’s chapter of Active Minds, a mental health awareness organization.
She also said the Counseling Center doubled its staff in the fall and began working with trainees from the Master’s in Clinical Counseling program. This allowed them to eliminate the waitlist for one-on-one counseling and begin group therapy and psychoeducation workshops for students who aren’t comfortable with individual counseling.
Outside of mental health services, the care has been expanding for all areas of students’ wellbeing. Health Promotion Specialist Kaitlin Sorgea and her team of interns are in charge of outreach events like the Faith and Sexuality panel that took place in February and the upcoming Marijuana and Mental Health panel.
“This year we’ve really been looking at the care we’ve been providing and making sure it’s well rounded and that no need goes unmet, that goes for sexual health, that goes for nutrition and that goes for mental health,” said Sorgea.
In the future, King and Sorgea hope to continue to expand the Wellness Center’s programing and inform more students about its services, like free medical care, access to a free psychiatrist as well as a doctor and nurse practitioner that can prescribe medications including antidepressants and online services like TimelyCare for mental and physical needs.
According to King, only about 10% of students are using Wellness Center resources, so she hopes students will become aware of the services they offer. Sorgea hopes more people will join her as ambassadors and interns to represent the health needs of students on campus.
“We’re kind of trying to rebrand ourselves as a welcoming, safe place that is totally confidential for students,” said King. “We want students to understand that we have licensed professionals, a really high quality of care for medical and counseling and we just want students to know that we’re here for them.”
Wellness Wednesdays are open for all students to attend at 5:00 in Colt Hall.
For those interested in Sorgea’s outreach programming, her email is email@example.com.
Written By: Lily Damron and Becky Rookard