Amid national mental health crisis, TCNJ's health and exercise science department launches new fully online health and wellness graduate certificate.
Now, more than ever, wellness support and education is needed.
EWING, NJ February 24, 2022 – One of the more devastating effects of the pandemic has been a national decline in mental health. The US Census Bureau found overall household anxiety levels surged 6% from pre-COVID levels in 2021, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 24% jump from 2019 to 2020 in child emergency room visits for mental health reasons. In the midst of this crisis, the health and exercise science department in the School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science (SNHES) at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) is launching a new fully online health and wellness graduate certificate to prepare students to address wellbeing challenges in schools and society at large.
The health and exercise science associate professor spearheading this program, Laura Bruno, remarks, “Now, more than ever, wellness support and education is needed. The goals and objectives of this program are to prepare individuals with the necessary tools to be wellness champions. We want to create agents of change who will proactively address and support the wellness needs within the communities they serve.” Launching in summer 2022, the certificate program will include courses on motivational coaching, stress-management, health and wellness, nutrition and physical fitness, as well as an internship requirement. This track will be offered in a fully digital format.
Before announcing this graduate certificate, TCNJ’s SNHES piloted an undergraduate health and wellness minor with similar program elements. Health and exercise science professor and department chair, Anne Farrell, says, “Health and wellness coaches help people learn to live their best life by empowering clients to be the drivers of change through goal setting and applying the practical strategies for reaching those goals. We have found that undergraduate majors enroll for multiple reasons: To attain information and practical experiences to improve their own health, to supplement or enhance their current major, and to make themselves more marketable. The certificate is especially relevant for those in health or education-focused fields, where there is an ever-growing need for professionals with this knowledge and skill base.”
Both Bruno and Farrell hope to extend the certificate’s internship requirement in the future to encourage students to actively assist local schools with assessing and taking action to improve student wellness.
A student who enrolled in the school's health and wellness minor, Nicollette Simon, Class of 2022, adds, "I am so happy and extremely blessed to have the opportunity to minor in Health and Wellness. My professors structured the classes to be very engaging, and I learned so much about health and wellness upon completion of the program that I will definitely be able to carry with me into my nursing career."
TCNJ’s School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science’s Dean Carole Kenner explains, “This new health and wellness graduate certificate is necessary for preparing current and future educators and health professionals to be active agents of change as the world deals with the mental health crisis resulting from the pandemic. We are proud that our faculty and students continue to proactively confront society’s most urgent challenges.”
TCNJ’s School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science educates aspiring health professionals to become future leaders across the healthcare industry. Faculty work closely with local healthcare partners to provide students with applicative skills and foundational knowledge. The nationally acclaimed school is dedicated to preparing individuals—through programs in nursing, public health, exercise science, and physical education teaching—for the many rewards of guiding people, communities, and populations toward improved health outcomes.