February 28, 2019

Penn GSE launches peer group support sessions

Penn GSE Wellness Coordinator Jinxi Yu. 

When Penn GSE students return from Spring Break, Wellness Coordinator Jinxi Yu will offer a series of peer group support sessions to help students work through stress.

The group meetings will deal with topics such as interpersonal relationships (family, friends, colleagues, etc.), academic- and career-related concerns (time management, stress about post-graduation life, and career interests), and personal growth (self-awareness, competence, etc.).

Peer group support sessions

Sessions will be held Thursdays from 6:30-7:30 pm. Because space is limited, interested students should RSVP to Jinxi Yu at jinxiyu@gse.upenn.edu.

Other Spring wellness programs will include:

March 20: Try all kinds of crafts

April 3: DIY stress ball

April 17: Try Zumba

April 29-May 2: De-Stressful Week events, including dog therapy, mindfulness sessions, massage, Zumba, stress balls, facial masks, snacks, and free coffee.

If students want to speak individually about self-care or wellness, Yu is also available at the Student Services Office Mondays from noon-5 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Fridays from noon-5 p.m. She will also have availability by appointment on evenings and weekends for students in executive format programs. 

Formats will change from week to week based on the group’s preferences, but will include a combination of discussions, body movements, and art- and craft-making.

As Wellness Coordinator working out of the Office of Student Services (OSS), Yu, a graduate of Penn GSE’s Executive Program for School and Mental Health Counseling, serves as a resource for students as they navigate stress and other issues that can arise in graduate school. 

Yu’s experiences as a student help her relate to students from a wide array of backgrounds and interests. She grew up in China and came to the United States to earn an undergraduate degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. While a student at Penn GSE, she studied in an executive-format program.

“I want students to know I’m here, and we can talk if you are struggling at school, at home, or with friends,” Yu said. “Too often, we ignore our mental health. We focus on how others see us, but we don't ask ourselves if we are happy with ourselves.”

Yu’s goal is to help students think through their problems together and give them the tools to find a solution. An added benefit is that students will have the opportunity to connect with others around the school.

“We are always looking for new opportunities to support our students, and Jinxi’s work is part of Penn’s overall commitment to student wellness,” said Assistant Dean for Student Services Ann Tiao. “These peer support sessions will give students an additional place to connect, understand their stressors, and build skills for self-care.”

In addition to her Wellness Coordinator position, Yu is a research coordinator for the Executive Program for School and Mental Health Counseling. In that role, she is working with counseling students in two Philadelphia public schools to explore the benefits of “possibility mentors” — mentors who help children think about possibilities they want to pursue, both in the short and longer terms.

“I’m an empathetic person,” Yu said. “I’m easy-going, and I’m warm-hearted. Don’t be stressed when you come to meet me.”