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New Campus Health Services’ program aims to alleviate stress through massage

Grace Pierson
Grace Pierson/ Arizona Daily Wildcat UA graduate William Bodman enjoys a free massage from the Stressbusters on Thursday night at the Rec Center.

UA Campus Health Services has a new program designed to help relieve students’ stress through free back rubs at various events throughout the semester.

Headed by Jordan Friedman, Stressbusters was first founded by a team at Columbia University 18 years ago.

The program is currently active in 15 schools around the country including Northern Arizona University.

“Stress is the most health related problem reported by college students,” said Lee Ann Hamilton, assistant director of Health Promotion & Preventive Services at Campus Health. “A significant amount of students that get even a five minute back rub feel less stressed, less overwhelmed, and more relaxed. Its simple, effective touch for those who want and need some stress relief.”

On Thursday evening, Friedman came to UA to kick off the program with the first event and train volunteers on how to properly relieve the stress of others through massages at the Student Recreation Center.

From 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m., students could take advantage of a free five-minute back rub from one of 45 Stressbuster volunteers.

“It was pretty relaxing,” said Drake Leifried, a pre-physiology freshman, after receiving a back massage. “It was a nice little surprise. I wasn’t expecting it when I came in here.“

Prior to the event, Friedman trained the 45 volunteers from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. where they learned 20 different back rub techniques, essential communication between Stressbuster staff and massage recipients, how to produce Stressbuster events and why the program is an important resource for students.

“I volunteered for Stressbusters because I thought it would be a fun experience to get to know people and helping them relieve stress,” said Anna Morgan, a pre-nursing freshman, after giving her first massage.

The UA was able to fund a contract with Friedman and the Stressbusters program through a campus health grant that specifically targeted the prevention of mental illness, including stress.

It took a little more than a year to bring the program to the UA however, due to various UA approvals, scheduling and grant applications.

“The great thing about Stressbusters is that students learn about the program, and when they experience the program, they want to be a part of the program,” Friedman said during the first event. “We hope that it will continue to grow in membership at UA and nationally.”

Stressbusters can be requested for any event through Campus Health Services.

Currently, there are talks of creating regular weekly Stressbusters events, but no schedule has been created.

A new UA Stressbusters app is also in the works.

The app will send notifications to app holders that will provide various Stressbusters related information including applications to become part of Stressbusters, sound clips of calming noises and music, various how-to videos and much more.

“Stressbusters will be doing events all over, wherever the stressed are gathered,” Hamilton said, “It’ll be a way for people to get some stress relief in a fast, and easy and fun way.“

– Follow Micah Montiel @MicahMontiel

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