Do you remember the commercial by a cellular company a few years ago? “Can you hear me now?” was the slogan. Ironically, the constant use of cell phones over the last few decades is blamed for making it less likely that we will truly hear each other now – at least when it comes to face-to-face communication.
At Perry Wellness Center, there’s no shortage of electronic communication, but peers and staff make time for equal shares of in-person communication.
“Personal contact and information sharing work best for all of us,” explains PWC founder and CEO Stuart Perry. “If we talk face to face, we have a better understanding of the needs of others. Body language can tell us a bunch if we learn to observe it as we talk.”
Structured conversation take place in group sessions, and peers share thoughts with each other during meals, breaks, and other free time. Staff members’ doors are always open to anyone who needs to vent, chat, or ask a question.
Peers frequently speak with visitors to campus, from market patrons to volunteers. Interacting with the larger community improves peers’ social skills and normalizes the face of mental illness for the general public. College students frequently visit Perry Wellness Center for this very learning experience.
In the photo above, Lea, center, pauses to chat with peers James, left, and Kaylon, right, about their day. A student at Fort Valley State University, Lea is completing her practicum for her Masters degree in School Counseling.