Nursing Students and Faculty Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month


As part of "Stress Less Week" and to kick-off of Mental Health Awareness Month and Nurses Month in May, Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania Breiner School of Nursing students and faculty participated in an innovative, upstream Intergenerational Neighborhood experience in partnership with Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community, Danville on May 1, from 1 to 3 p.m. to promote mental health and well-being.

"Research has shown that we are living in a social isolation and loneliness epidemic, and we are experiencing a mental health crisis across our nation," according to Dr. Kimberly Delbo, assistant professor of nursing professor in the Breiner School of Nursing. "It is critical for us to destigmatize mental health in our schools, workplaces, and the broader community." One in four adults are experiencing a diagnosable mental health condition in the United States and nearly 60% of youth today do not receive the mental health care they need. "We are interconnected holistic beings, comprised of body, mind and spirit."

Nurse Volunteers
From left: Heartherlyn Rosario, Rebekah Fetteroff, Alysia Kraus, Cheyenne Holdren, and Dr. Kimberly Delbo. 

Research has shown that nursing students are at a higher risk for mental health conditions which can result in burnout. According to the American Nurses Association, many new Registered Nurses are choosing to leave the profession within one year of becoming a new nurse. "While encouraging heart coherence, it’s amazing how love, kindness, service, and compassion can help improve our holistic health, well-being, self-security, and even immune functioning,” says Delbo, who also serves as a faculty lead and mentor for the scalable upstream community health promotion initiative.

The clinic was led by Commonwealth University Breiner School of Nursing students and faculty while conducting an integrative mobile Heart, Hands, and Feet clinic for senior citizen residents. The students and residents used a variety of therapeutic, evidence-based, cost-effective complementary alternative therapies while cultivating intergenerational relationships. The clinic included horticulture therapy, manicure/hand massages, foot inspections, blood pressure screenings, as well as music and pet therapy.

"Following a serendipitous encounter and conversation, this clinic is dedicated to Janice Foust, a former registered nurse with 60 years of experience who has worked in various positions across our nation and the healthcare continuum. Janice resides at the care community along with her husband Jack, of nearly 60 years," says Delbo. "Janice shared her life story, memories, and advice from her 60-year nursing journey with the students while standing outside the facility. When asked what advice she would give new nurses today, Foust told them "stay with it. Don't quit. Keep learning, never stop learning new things." The event was attended by 18 nursing students and 20 residents.


The clinic was led by four student volunteer Community Health Engagement Coordinators, Cheyenne Holdren, Rebekah Fetterhoff, Heatherlyn Rosario, and Alysia Kraus, junior students in Delbo’s Adult Health Nursing class. “I'm hopeful that this initiative will empower and cultivate professional identity formation, including leadership, values, ethics, and professional comportment among tomorrow’s nurses,” says Delbo.

"Getting to be a part of planning and participating in the Intergenerational Heart, Hands, and Feet clinic at the Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community was so rewarding. Seeing the joy on the students' and residents’ faces as we pet dogs, painted nails, danced, planting flowers, and telling stories was so much fun. It was sweet as we planned to see how many students wanted to come out to volunteer their time, but in reality, the residents there did more for the students than we did for them. I truly love hearing the residents' stories and wisdom. They encourage us in our educational pursuits to be nurses so much. They truly remind us why we are going into nursing, to care for people and make a difference in their lives. People with so many stories and things to share with us, not just tasks that we need to check off our list. The clinic just had more joy in one room than most college students experience all semester and being able to bring those different groups of people together was so beautiful," says Cheyenne Holdren.