How the WellCAT Ambassadors program leads the way in student mental, physical and nutritional health
Physical, mental and nutritional health are things that people of all ages and genders struggle with daily. College students are no exception to these challenges. Lafene Health Center created the WellCAT Ambassadors program which assists students in navigating these obstacles through peer-to-peer counseling.
“WellCAT Ambassadors is made up of 40 to 50 K-State students who go through a rigorous training process so they can provide evidence-based education and advocacy resource connection in the areas of health and overall wellbeing,” said Megan Katt, WellCAT program adviser. “WellCAT Ambassadors are trained to assist students in the areas of mental, physical, nutritional, sexual and substance fields.”
WellCAT recognizes that helping students in these situations cannot be met with a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, WellCAT has put a problem-solving system in place that ensures their ambassadors are making the most positive impact possible, not just on the students they meet in Lafene but toward the entire K-State campus.
“We use a tiered approach to helping students find solutions to their roadblocks,” Katt said. “On one hand we focus on campus by utilizing social media. Our ambassadors stay very active in order to reach the most students possible. We also offer small group presentations to classes, athletic teams and Greek houses about our services. Finally, we offer one-on-one services where students can come in and speak with a WellCAT Ambassador about the issues they face. We at WellCAT want to ensure that no student feels alone, and that help is always available.”
Katt realizes that speaking to someone who is closer in age to the student in need is the backbone of the WellCAT Ambassadors program. “Our program thrives on a peer-to-peer approach,” Katt said. “When you are speaking to someone your own age about issues, you feel more relatable. Research proves this. That is why WellCAT wouldn’t be what it is without our great student ambassadors. They are the driving force behind our program.”
From a student ambassador perspective, the WellCAT program has been very beneficial. “Being able to help others through their challenges has been so gratifying,” said Katherine Benhardt, WellCAT Ambassador. “I’ve always been interested in assisting others who have mental health struggles. Having dealt with those struggles myself while also facing the daily pressures of being a college student, I recognize how life can be very challenging at times. Being able to assist others who need someone to talk to is so gratifying to me, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to help in any way I can.”
To learn more about the WellCAT Ambassador program visit: k-state.edu/lafene/programs/wellcat-ambassadors/