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Office of Health Promotion Spotlight

Brian Luppy
Students will be able to take mental health days as excused absences starting next semester.

Students might be familiar with the fact that Villanova’s campus offers high quality health services, but a lesser-known fact is that there are three separate offices underneath the umbrella of student health. 


“The most rewarding thing is that students are now finding out about our office in different ways,” Kristy McCarthy, the Associate Director of Health Promotion said. “Having a position at orientation was huge for us and was a big improvement.” 


The Office of Health Promotion finds itself constantly confused with the Counseling Center. These offices are separate, as the Office of Health Promotion brands itself as a resource and referral hub for the six dimensions of health and well-being: Social, Physical, Intellectual, Cultural, Emotional and Spiritual (SPICES). 


The Office of Health Promotion distinguishes itself from the Student Health Center and the Counseling Center in offering a place for students to create healthy learning environments and to make smart choices when it comes to balancing their physical and mental health.


This office makes weekly announcements in the Wildcat Newswire and has started the more recent initiative of weekly pet therapy. 


“I wanted to help create a space of health promotion,” McCarthy said. “It was always a passion of mine, and I tried to find unique ways to positively impact mental health of students.” 


Pet therapy began as a twice-a-year event, but when the Office of Health Promotion noticed that more than 200 students would come to each session, it began to consider increasing the frequency of this event. 


“We piloted pet therapy once a month and those were so popular, so we shifted that to a weekly initiative,” McCarthy said. “A lot of [these students] are homesick for their own animals and some just need some pet therapy.”


McCarthy noted that with the success around pet therapy, and the fact that many students that attended this event attended every week, the office began to brainstorm other ways it could help students take care of their mental health. 


“It got us thinking, what other ways can students take care of their mental health and learn who we are and what we are?” McCarthy said. 


The office began to grow it reach across campus in recent years, with the start of organizations and programs like THRIVE365 and POWER. 


“[THRIVE365] will automatically give [students] resources,” McCarthy said, when explaining this online initiative. “It highlights where they are thriving and where they might be struggling and provides links to every resource at Villanova.” 


In building a custom profile on THRIVE365, students are asked to identify the areas that they would like to work or focus on in their physical, mental and social wellness. There is a consistent emphasis on self-care and self-checks, which aim at the goal of improving the way that students take care of their health. 


POWER stands for “Peers Offering Wellness Education & Resources” and is a student organization that works with the Office of Health Promotion. Members of POWER aim to provide Villanova community members with information, resources, events and programs related to health and well-being. On its event page, the Office of Health Promotion notes a monthly “Painting with POWER” event, which is a step-by-step painting session that simultaneously facilitates conversation about campus resources. 


“On the events page, you will see all of the events that we do,” McCarthy said. “People do not realize how much we are offering and how much we can help students.”


An example of a recent event that the Office of Health Promotion hosted was a zoom seminar on Wednesday, Sept. 20, called “Navigating Difficult Conversations around Mental Health Virtual Panel.” McCarthy recalled several of the questions covered during the panel.


“How do you recognize when you need to seek outside help for your mental health?” McCarthy said. “We discussed how to take care of your mental health and well-being in college, and how to best support a friend who is having a difficult time with their mental health.” 


McCarthy and the Office of Health Promotion hope that students become more aware of their programming and services that they offer, as they hope to improve and support the physical and mental well-being of Villanova community members. 


“We do a lot, and we love doing it,” McCarthy said. “We love working with our students and supporting them in different ways.” 


For more information on the Office of Health Promotion, their programs, and their events, visit

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