Concordia’s health promotion specialists deliver stress-management presentations during COVID-19 closures
Gabriella Szabo has been a guest speaker in Michael Beigleman’s Organizational Behaviour and Theory (COMM 222) class for several years. But this spring her presentation on workplace stress — held through Zoom video conferencing instead of in the classroom — had heightened relevance for students.
Szabo is a health promotion specialist for Concordia Health Services. She presented to Beigleman’s students in March on course-relevant topics, including common factors that contribute to workplace stress and coping strategies for feeling overwhelmed in a work setting.
But she also shared resources for students now dealing with regular school stresses while living through an unprecedented and uniquely disturbing time.
“The topic of stress is so universal. But now, in this situation we’re living in, it is beyond relevant. Everyone’s experiencing stress in this pandemic,” says Beigleman (MBA 88), an education and marketing lecturer at the university.
Szabo’s presentation is part of a long-running curriculum infusion program organized by Health Promotion Services. It allows Concordia professors and lecturers to incorporate health and wellness concepts into their teaching.
Szabo and health promotion specialist Owen Moran (BA 00) — both of whom are registered nurses — attend various classes as guest speakers to discuss topics such as stress management, healthy sexuality, physical activity, improving sleep and more. They often work with professors to tailor their presentations to their audience.
“We’ve always been available to professors to present on a variety of topics. Sometimes we are invited in on a topic that’s not related to the curriculum but the professor feels is valuable. So it could be just to review health services, or it could be a longer presentation on nutrition or critical thinking or stress management before exam time,” Szabo explains. “And sometimes the professor actually builds a module around the wellness topic.”
‘I had really good feedback from students’
Szabo has regularly presented on healthy sexuality in exercise science courses, and Moran has presented on the same topic in courses on adolescent psychology. Additionally, Moran has an ongoing partnership with Concordia Continuing Education, which teaches English as a second language by using health content.
An added benefit of the program, Moran notes, is students are learning course-relevant material while also gaining knowledge about important health and wellness topics.
“I presented in a marketing course for three or four terms. The professor, instead of assigning students to market and develop a campaign for bubble gum, for example, asked them to develop a campaign for condom use,” he says.
“That’s a win-win situation. You’re applying all the information you learn about advertising and marketing and developing a campaign on a topic that you need to learn about — safer sex.”
Beigleman says Szabo’s presentations have added a valuable perspective to his class. “I had really good feedback from students. There’s an interest on their part when they hear her talk not only about the course material but going above and beyond.”
In recent presentations since Concordia closed its campuses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Szabo has been emphasizing to students that Health Services are still open and the resources are available, mostly by phone. “A lot of students expressed relief to hear that,” she says.
Going forward, she hopes more professors will integrate the curriculum infusion program, especially given the new normal at the university. “We hope professors will take advantage of the registered nurses who are available.”
Find out more about Concordia’s Health Promotion Services.