Peer-Led Online Healthy Habits Program Moves Online

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Establishing healthy lifestyle habits while juggling a busy university schedule can be challenging, but now University of Guelph students will be able to access a new program through Student Wellness that could offer them the guidance they need.

USHINE, or the University of Guelph’s Successful Habits in Education program, is a free, peer-led wellness behaviour change program.

It’s designed for students who want to help to improving a wellness behaviour of their choice, whether it’s to change eating patterns, get more exercise or sleep, quit smoking, manage stress, build more social connections, or any other health habit.

Students meet with a USHINE Peer Mentor one-on-one once a week who helps them set achievable wellness goals, points them to resources, and supports them while they make changes.

“The peer mentors act like a sort of accountability buddy, helping students to set goals and stick with them,” said Jean Thompson, a wellness educator in the University’s Department of Student Wellness.

The program launched as a pilot last year and received so much positive feedback that the Student Wellness program decided to offer it more broadly this year.

While students and their peer mentors met face-to-face last year, this year the program will move online and be held through short videoconference meetings.

With all the life changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to so many aspects of our lives, Thompson expects the program to be even more popular this year.

“It’s hard enough to set good habits when you’re a student, but with the move to remote learning, it can be even more challenging to create new routines or to make connections with new friends so we’re hoping this program will help,” she said.

Thompson said she thinks what made the program popular last year was that it relies on trained peer mentors.

“These are fellow students who know what they are going through and want to help. It’s not some authority figure telling them what to do; it’s someone like them who wants to offer support, not dictate what they should do, but meet them where they are at,” she said.

It’s also a great opportunity to learn about the other kinds of supports Student Wellness offers, including dietitians, counsellors and more.

Email ushine@uoguelph.ca or call Student Wellness at (519) 824-4120 Ext. 52131 to learn more.

To learn more about what the U of G student experience will look like this fall, visit the Virtual Campus page.