The University Counseling Center’s Mental Health Advocacy and Peer-Education program, RENEW (Realizing Everyone’s Need for Emotional Wellness), was established in the Fall of 2005 by 19 Florida State University students. Since 2005, we have grown to become one of the country’s largest and most active counseling center sponsored peer-education programs. We maintain a membership of approximately 45 undergraduate students. Members are carefully selected for their friendly and helpful personalities, excellent ability to manage time and stress, and elite academic performance.
We serve the FSU community through providing individualized instructional sessions, presentations, and outreach related to stress management, time management, study skills, healthy relationships, and counseling center services. Each member contributes a minimum of 25 hours per semester to our university through outreach and intervention surrounding emotional wellness. RENEW’s value and contribution to the university community was quickly recognized by the Division of Student Affairs, who awarded us as 2008-09 “Program of the Year”.
RENEW proactively engages with the student community and strives to develop new techniques which combat negative stereotypes surrounding mental health, in an effort to inspire and foster a better understanding of emotional wellness. As part of the University Counseling Center outreach program, RENEW trains students to become mental health advocates and peer educators who promote the importance of emotional balance as a vital part of an individual’s overall well-being.
In addition to individualized instructional sessions, our members facilitate emotional health and wellness presentations for a variety of FSU campus organizations, including courses, housing, Greek life, and student organizations. RENEW also teams up with partners across campus to help facilitate events such as Stress-Buster Day, Love Your Body Day, Nole Your Health, and Seminole Sensation Week. RENEW members serve as ambassadors for the University Counseling Center with the goal to reduce the stigma of seeking mental health counseling. Former RENEW member Sabrina Omega commented, “I want to reach out to those that may feel like they are too embarrassed to get emotional help or just don’t know that the help is out there.”
Being part of RENEW is a rewarding experience offering its members the opportunity to provide an invaluable service to the campus community. RENEW’s former secretary, Carrie Love, described how she has reaped the benefits of RENEW when she said, “Giving emotional health presentations around campus has given me the opportunity to help other students as well as myself.” RENEW provides its members with valuable leadership, communication and academic success skills that will continue to benefit them throughout their lives.