Feeling tense? Stressbusters has your back

In just a few weeks, the Northern Arizona University campus will have something that can’t be found at any other university in the state: a team of Stressbusters.

Thirty students will soon receive professional training to become stress prevention advisors and backrub providers as part of a proven program that’s been adopted at Harvard, Rutgers and other universities around the country.

Yes, backrubs. And shoulders and hands. But the program is quick to point out that all the work is done as a team activity during public events, with the consent of the recipients. Team members also give out health advice and stress management tips.

“The NAU Stressbusters team is a peer education group that will address one of the biggest issues on campus,” said Melissa Griffin, senior health educator in the Health Promotions office. “Students report that stress is the most common health factor that affects their academic performance.”

As part of her role at NAU, Griffin reviews student survey data, then seeks to “find out what other schools are doing to address similar issues and how it works.” In this case, she sees Stressbusters as an “innovative way to address stress management.”

Once trained, Griffin said, the team of students could hold an event at a residence hall during finals, or even visit a department. She is recruiting the initial team of 30 students—a requirement of the Stressbusters program—for a training session in the Health and Learning Center on Nov. 18.