Stressbusters is a nationwide college health program that helps students, staff, and faculty rediscover relaxation.
Student volunteers, trained by a licensed massage therapist, provide free five-minute backrubs at events on the Danforth campus while health promotion staff from the Habif Health and Wellness Center provide stress management resources and wellness information.
Between 2009 and 2019, 401 Stressbusters volunteers gave 12,728 backrubs to satisfied “stressbust-ees” at 469 events on WashU’s Danforth Campus. In a fall 2018 evaluation the majority of survey respondents reported feeling less stressed after receiving the backrub than they did when they arrived at the event, and they experienced a reduction in several indicators of stress, including tension, tiredness, anxiety, and lack of motivation. Volunteers also report stress relief after working a shift.
Stressbusters crews provide backrubs in public spaces only, and each event has a captain representing the Habif Health and Wellness Center who sets up the space and manages the line.
Popular Stressbusters event locations include the DUC, Goldfarb Commons and Hillman Hall in the Brown School, the Psychology Building staff lounge, Olin Library, residence hall lobbies, and the Bear’s Den private dining room.
Stressbusters are not paid. This is a volunteer position.
Stressbusters are amateurs; training in no way qualifies you to provide services on the level of a Licensed Massage Therapist, Physical Therapist or credentialed chiropractor.
In addition to the three-hour training session, a Stressbuster is required to participate in at least three events each semester. Since most shifts last for 60 minutes, your total minimum time commitment to the program will be approximately three hours per semester plus training. Many Stressbusters choose to give more time to the program.
The uniform is a white t-shirt with the Stressbusters logo on the back and the Habif Health and Wellness logo on the front. Each Stressbuster receives his or her own shirt at their first official event after successful completion of training. You will wear a Stressbusters name tag to each event.
A Stressbuster will never work alone; you will always be with a crew of other Stressbusters, providing backrubs in public spaces. Each event has a captain trained by health promotion staff to manage each event and represent the Habif Health and Wellness Center.
Stressbusters event locations have included the DUC, Goldfarb Commons in the Brown School, the Psychology Building staff lounge, Simon Hall, the Athletic Complex, residence hall lounges and lobbies, and Olin Library.
- Read the volunteer job description on the Stressbusters page on the WashU Group Organizer (WUGO) site.
- Understand the time commitment. In addition to the three-hour training session, a Stressbuster must participate in three hours of service each semester – that is three one-hour shifts at events that work in your schedule. Note that many Stressbusters choose to give more time to the program because they find it helps them relax and connect with people.
- Fill out the application on the WUGO page (note you may need to log in with your WUSTL key).
- Once accepted, attend a three-hour training workshop to learn how the program works, the basics of stress, muscle tension, and relaxation, and how to provide simple, low-intensity Swedish backrub techniques to a person’s shoulders, arms, back and neck. You will also learn about essential communication skills and important wellness resources on campus and receive your Stressbusters T-shirt. After one semester of Stressbusting, you can attend an optional advanced training workshop to learn more techniques from the licensed massage therapist.
Questions? Email us or call 314-935-7139.