A mile in their shoes

Well-Being Peers help their fellow students through peer education.

Meg Rubino (left) and Annie Culbert (right) host a table for students to have snacks before finals at Speaker Circle Dec. 13, 2021.               Sam O'Keefe/University of Missouri

March 10, 2022

Whenever she sees someone in need, senior Danielle Mintzlaff feels ready to help. “I know how to ask, listen and respond,” she said. “I’m going to be there as a resource.”

Mintzlaff is a Well-Being Peer through the Wellness Resource Center. Through presentations and outreach, Mintzlaff and other Well-Being Peers connect their fellow students to campus resources related to physical and mental health.

Whether it’s free counseling through the MU Counseling Center or services covered by the Student Health Fee, such as flu shots and STI testing, “The university offers some free resources that are going to be really beneficial for students,” senior and Well-Being Peer Alexis Hauser said. “They should take advantage of them.”

Because Well-Being Peers are also college students, Hauser says, assisting other students is easier for them than it is for traditional authority figures.

“You might have experienced something that they’re experiencing,” she said, “so you have a little more empathy and compassion.”

When it comes to mental health, “We’ll do a lot of stress management presentations,” Hauser said. “Being able to know different stressors and how to cope with them is a really good tool to have in your back pocket.”

Mintzlaff remembers speaking to freshmen about stress management and reflecting on her own first-year experience.

“They’re like, ‘Oh, my biggest stressor is college algebra,’ and I remember taking college algebra and that being my biggest stressor,” she said. “I was like, ‘This is how I dealt with it.’”

“Students are blown away that someone else knows how they feel,” Hauser said.

Mintzlaff said being a Well-Being Peer has changed her life.

“It makes me a better bystander and a better friend and a better community member because I can see a situation and understand the best ways to handle it based on my training,” she said.

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