Story by Ideth Sanchez
The Student Wellness Advocacy Group (SWAG) is an on-campus support group that allows students to to speak to peers and create a sense of relief.
The support group launched in Fall 2017, and was inspired by MiraCosta College and California State University San Marcos.
The program was implemented by the Health Services department.
“SWAG promotes mental health and wellness education on campus,” according to the Health Services website.
Every Wednesday a workshop is held in room MD-104 from 2:00 p.m to 3:00 p.m. with a new topic each week.
Topics such as, stress management, depression, healthy relationships, and domestic violence are presented and students are able to participate and talk about these topics.
Students at the support group are also exposed to resources that are available to them here on campus.
Students can also seek therapists on campus if needed.
Behavioral Health Counseling Services (BHCS) are available at Palomar.
BHCS is a safe place to talk with a licensed therapist privately about any concerns a student may have. BHCS provides individual, couples, and group counseling services, consultation, outreach, and psychological services to support Palomar students.
Students who are enrolled are entitled to request an appointment with a therapist through the health fee paid by students at the beginning of each semester.
BHCS is located in the NB Building at the north end of the San Marcos campus and is also in the Student Health Clinics at both Escondido and Rancho Bernardo Centers.
The program also hosts activities in the Student Union such as art therapy, stress globes, hug therapy, meditation, vision boards, and journaling every week.
Students are welcome to participate.
It is significant that the support group is ran by students in order to help other students reach out when needed.
This creates more of a comforting space to students. Students are more likely to reach to their peers when they are in need for help.
Mentors from SWAG have realized that peers provide a different level of empathy and understanding.
According to their website, “Students are more likely to utilize the resources available to them when they are recommended by a peer.”
Alexis Garcia is the support group mentor/trainee and is also a state certified counselor.
Garcia believes that SWAG should continue at Palomar College because it is “raising student success.”
“After every workshop students are handed surveys, the ratings range from good to excellent,” said Garcia.
Garcia aims to reach out to more students so that the support group becomes larger.
She says that awareness of the support group is slowly growing.
Emails and flyers are sent out and posted in hopes of more students showing up each time.
From Student Services, “Our mission [with SWAG] is to raise awareness about mental health, and other related issues, and to create a culture of support on campus.”
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