The Peer Educator program is a student-run health promotion initiative for undergraduate and graduate students overseen by the Student Wellness Centre’s Education team. Each year, Peer Educators develop and implement wellness programs to enhance campus well-being on one of six Wellness Outreach Teams: Active Living, Food Literacy, Mental Health, Sexual Health, Substance Use, and Graduate Wellness.
Peer Educators are responsible for delivering workshops, providing evidence-based health information, and promoting wellness-related resources available on and off campus. Accordingly, students on our Wellness Outreach Teams are ambitious, proactive, and driven toward making a difference on campus.
Wellness Outreach Teams are led by Team Leads, returning Peer Educators who have demonstrated significant contribution to their teams. They have a personal commitment to improving their own wellness and advocating for the wellness of others.
Click on the links below for more details.
Learn More About Our Teams
The Active Living team aims to promote movement and activity in an accessible manner amongst all McMaster students, given the incredible scientific support a more active lifestyle has on one’s mental health.
Topics and activities include:
The Food Literacy team aims to increase students’ knowledge of food and nutrition and equip them with the skills needed to prepare food while considering taste, health, culture, and affordability.
Topics and activities include:
- Food skills
- Food security
- Farmer’s Market tours
- Gardening activities
- Cooking sessions through our Food for Thought program
The Mental Health team works to increase students’ knowledge of the many factors that contribute to their own state of mental wellness.
Topics and activities include:
- Building caring and supportive communities
- Stigma reduction
The Sexual Health is focused on educating the McMaster community about the different aspects of sexual health, and what it means to promote a sex-positive environment.
Topics and activities include:
- Healthy relationships
- HIV and STI prevention and testing
- Sexual orientation and gender identity
- Gender and sexuality
- Reproductive rights
The Substance Use team uses a harm reduction lens to reduce the social, psychological, and biological harms associated with substances like alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco.
Topics and activities include:
- Alcohol, cannabis, and vaping education
- Party kit-making
- Smoke-free campus cigarette butt litter audits
- Normalizing the choice to not use substances
Graduate Wellness Newsletter
Every two weeks, our Graduate Wellness Outreach Team releases the Graduate Wellness Newsletter, filled with event listings, information about campus and community resources, and tips on improving your own wellness.
Sign up to receive the Graduate Wellness Newsletter here, or click on the links below to see past newsletters.
The CCN (Caring Communities Network) exists to build the capacity of students to support and enhance student wellbeing. The purpose of the network is to:
- Build connections for sharing best practices across student communities
- Provide better support for student leaders who are already assuming some or many of these responsibilities in their respective units
- Facilitate conversations about the proactive practices student communities can employ to enhance the wellbeing of students in their communities
Clubs, communities, or departments that choose to participate will have a designated Wellbeing Liaison (see below) whose duty is to orient student leaders to existing wellness programs and services and connect with other Wellbeing Liaisons to facilitate conversations on how to best support leadership team in support student wellbeing. The Wellbeing Liaison may be a new role within the club’s executive team, or the duties of a Wellness Liaison may be adopted by someone on the team with a similar role.
Each group that joins the Caring Communities Network will designate a group member as a Wellbeing Liaison. Liaisons are responsible for helping to connect students in their communities to initiatives related to student health and wellness.
This role also serves as a local resource, providing support for all members in a community who may have questions or need assistance accessing services and resources. Student communities may decide to create a new role within their executive structure or decide to adapt an already existing role, i.e. Club Chaplain, VP Social, etc.
Orientation and Support
Orientation will be offered in a three-hour session in September, with additional optional training offered throughout the year (e.g. safeTALK, Peer Support 101). The orientation will provide information on wellness programs and resources at McMaster and use case studies to explore best practices in supporting students’ wellbeing while respecting boundaries within one’s role. Regular email updates will be sent to Liaisons to provide information on new tools, resources and services for students. Back-up support, including consultation with mental health professionals, will be identified for those assuming the Wellbeing Liaison role to ensure they are adequately resourced. Liaisons are provided with a toolkit of resources that include information on campus resources and procedures. Regular Community of Practice meetings will allow Liaisons to connect with peers across campus and share practices and resources for their role.
Time Commitment and Length of Term
- 2-4 hours per month, depending on needs of your club
- 3 hour program orientation in September
- Community of Practice Meetings: 3 hours (1.5 hours per term)
- End of year program review meeting: 1.5 hours at beginning of April
- Additional Training (optional)
This program will recognize and enhance the work being done to promote wellness in your community. This program provides the opportunity to:
- Receive free health and wellness based training
- Collaborate with other groups
- Share resources and ideas
- Promote your health and wellness initiatives to individuals and groups who share your goals or may benefit from your programming
- Take on a leadership role within the McMaster community
If you’re interested in being a Wellbeing Liaison, you can apply directly through your club of interest. Talk to the executive members of the club to see if they have an opening for this position. If not, feel free to contact either the Student Wellness Centre or MSU to start up a new wellness liaison position (see link to form below)
As a club, to become a part of the Caring Communities Network, determine who will act as your Wellness Liaison and fill out this form. Please register promptly, as the current program capacity is limited to forty groups. Email the CCN Project Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The AHCA-National College Health Assessment (NCHA) is conducted by the American College Health Association (ACHA). It is an internationally recognized research survey that collects data about students’ health habits, behaviors, and perceptions. At the Student Wellness Centre, we’re dedicated to bettering the student experience through research, education, and sound practice. Participating in the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) is one of the many ways we’re working towards helping McMaster stay well.
The survey contains questions on a wide range of topics including alcohol use, tobacco use, other drug use, mental health, sexual health, nutrition, exercise, and personal safety.
McMaster University has participated in the NCHA survey in previous years (2009, 2013, 2016; 2019); the implementation of the survey is coordinated by the Student Wellness Centre. A randomized sample of McMaster students are selected to participate, and will receive an e-mail to their McMaster e-mails with an invitation to participate.
The survey was last conducted in 2019.
- NCHA-II SPRING 2019 MCMASTER UNIVERSITY INSTITUTIONAL DATA REPORT
- NCHA-II SPRING 2019 MCMASTER UNIVERSITY EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
- McMaster NCHA 2019 Report
More About NCHA
The data collected from the survey helps to identify the wellness needs of the student population, as well as improve the services offered by the Student Wellness Centre and university. The survey data also informs education, programming, and policies at the university. We recognize the significance of having supports available to students, and work tirelessly to ensure a positive student experience.
The goal is to have a respondent pool that represents the size and diversity of McMaster’s student community. An extensive respondent pool will allow for a more complete and accurate data set, and this will enable us to better meet the needs of all students at McMaster. Every survey helps build a healthier Mac!
The survey has been used to consistently adapt the programming, services, and support offered by the Student Wellness Centre. Whether this means the introduction of new student workshops, the tailoring of wellness education resources to better fit student needs, or more directly answering the requests of students in the information they receive. The survey has consistently worked to better the Student Wellness Centre.
Here’s just a few ways the survey has impacted McMaster since 2016:
In 2016, 73% of McMaster students who completed the NCHA survey said that they were interested in receiving information on nutrition. This result helped inform programming at the Student Wellness Centre; specifically, a program called Food for Thought was developed. Food for Thought offers a series of fun and interactive classes for students, and provides opportunities to discover and experience how to cook healthy, affordable, and delicious meals.
In 2016, 76% of McMaster students who completed the NCHA survey said that they were interested in receiving information on how to help others in distress. This result showed the need for education and training related to mental health. The Student Wellness Centre offers safeTALK training to McMaster students, faculty and staff; safeTALK is a half-day alertness training that prepares anyone over the age of 15, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper.
In 2016, 82% of McMaster students who completed the NCHA survey said that they were interested in receiving information on stress reduction. This result showed the importance of providing students with information on stress management, as well as offering programs and tools related to stress reduction. The Student Wellness Centre recently updated their website, and it has pages and articles specifically related to stress management. The Student Wellness Centre also offers a number of programs to help relieve stress, such as SWELL Unplugged and Walk In Nature Sessions.
What will the survey results be used for?
The survey results will be used to (1) identify the wellness needs of the student population, (2) improve the services offered by the Student Wellness Centre and university, and (3) inform education, programming, and policies.
What type of questions are included in the survey?
The survey contains questions on a wide range of health topics. These include: alcohol use, tobacco use, other drug use, mental health, sexual health, nutrition, exercise, and personal safety.
What if I don’t feel comfortable answering some of the questions?
The survey is completely voluntary, and you may skip any question that you do not want to answer. If you need support, please contact the Student Wellness Centre.
Who receives this survey and how will I know if I was selected?
6000 McMaster students will be randomly selected to participate in the survey. If you are selected to participate, you will receive an email to your McMaster email account. The subject line of the email will read “McMaster Student Wellness Survey”. Please note that the survey will come from an email account of ACHA-NCHA and not McMaster University.
How do I access the survey?
You can access the survey by clicking on the survey link provided in the invitation and reminder emails. You can complete the survey on a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Is the survey confidential and anonymous?
The survey is confidential, but it is not anonymous. The survey responses are made anonymous upon submission, but the survey is not administered anonymously. However, when you hit the “Submit Survey” button on the last page of the survey, the link between your email address and your survey response is destroyed. There will be no results about specific McMaster students made available, only the compiled data of the anonymous responses.
How long will it take to complete the survey? Do I need to complete all of it at one time?
The survey will take roughly 30 minutes to complete. You do not need to complete the entire survey at one time. You may begin the survey, take a break, and return to complete the survey at another time (your responses up to a page break will be saved).
Is there an incentive for completing the survey?
Yes! When you complete the survey and submit it, you will be entered to win 1 of 17 $100 Campus Store gift cards!
How will I know if my survey has been submitted?
When your survey has been submitted, you will receive a message thanking you for your participation and informing you that your responses have been submitted. You will also receive an email informing you that your responses to the survey have been recorded.
Who do I contact if I have questions or concerns?
If you have any questions or concerns related to the survey, please contact Taryn Aarssen email@example.com.
I didn’t receive the survey but I would like to provide feedback. How can I do this?
Although not all students will receive an invitation to participate in the survey, you can stay engaged with McMaster’s Student Wellness Centre and provide feedback through our website. Click here to learn more about how we’re helping Mac stay well.
Information Box Group
StepOne is our wellness campaign for Welcome Week 2021. It encourages students, especially those in first year, to prioritize six aspects of wellbeing:
- Finding support
- Community care
- Staying active
- Eating well
- Bedtime basics
The Ways to Wellness campaign outlines some ways to support your mental health and wellbeing among the chaos of student life. Each person’s experience of mental health is unique. Each person’s journey has its own start, path, and destination, but if there is one thing in common, it is that we can create a campus that is supportive, responsive and connected.
The Responsible Drinking and Substance Use campaign educates students on various strategies that encourage safe, responsible drinking habits. It is important that students feel empowered to make informed choices about drinking, and be made aware of available resources for substance use-related concerns.
The Consent campaign is there to help people identify what consent does and does not look like. It is important that students are knowledgeable in this key area of sexual health, and be made aware of available resources for sexual violence-related concerns.
Welcome Week Strategic Priorities - More Info
Supporting Mental Health and Wellness
Student wellbeing and mental health are critical foundations for student success. Whether you’re looking into getting help, have questions surrounding resources, or want to support a friend, the Student Wellness Centre is here to help.
Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence
McMaster is committed to taking action to prevent and respond to sexual violence. You can find find information on consent and support resources for survivors and allies here.
Responsible Drinking and Substance Use
All events sanctioned by McMaster University during Welcome Week are alcohol- and substance-free to promote the safety and wellbeing of students. If you do choose to use drink alcohol or use substances during Welcome Week, you can learn more about setting limits and the available supports and resources for addressing over-consumption.