iThrive at Stanford, a new initiative launched at the start of this academic year, will be responsible for running health and wellness programs such as dorm outreaches, happiness classes and the Peer Health Educator (PHE) program.
According to administrators, the most notable difference between HPS and iThrive will be an increased social media presence, with HPS taking an administrative role behind iThrive’s student-led outreach.
“Health Promotion Services is our official University name in which we serve on various University and national work groups,” HPS director Carole Pertofsky said. “iThrive at Stanford is who we are to students.”
Until 2011, HPS was responsible for running alcohol programs, sexual assault programs and wellness services. In 2011, the Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse (SARA) and the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE) were established, prompting HPS to focus on making programs more student-centered.
“iThrive seems more personal and approachable to students,” said Tim Huang ’14, TA of the iThrive-run ATHLETIC 196: Practice of Happiness class. “It’s about feeling like I have the resources and the people and the support to feel emotionally healthy.”
To more effectively reach students, iThrive has aggressively stepped up social media efforts in contrast with HPS’s more traditional, top-down approach. iThrive hires student writers and videographers to run its Facebook page.
“In today’s world, social media is students’ preferred method of getting information,” Pertofsky said. “We still offer real-time programs, courses, dorm talks and health advising; [social media] is a new addition that we hope will add value to students.”
Other new initiatives include Tumblr pages, an e-newsletter and student-written wellness blogs.
A large motivating factor behind the launch of iThrive was the separation of the sexual assault and alcohol offices from HPS, which has allowed Pertofsky to focus on wellness outreach.
“Until this academic year, our resources were more limited,” Pertofsky said. “Now we are able to dedicate our resources to new initiatives for student wellness.”