Salve Success: Ana Inciarte ‘22, peer wellness coordinator and volunteer with Crisis Text Line
True to Salve Regina’s mercy mission, Ana Inciarte ’22 has devoted her time to caring and cultivating a safe place for people struggling with mental health both on and off campus.
Inciarte is currently a biology major with a concentration in microbiology, and she’s also minoring in history and chemistry. When she isn’t in the O’Hare Academic Building lab or spending time with clubs like Mad Batter Baking Club or the Pre-Health Club, Inciarte is caring for her community by volunteering with the national Crisis Text Line and Salve Regina’s peer wellness program.
Coordinating the peer wellness program
As a peer wellness coordinator, Inciarte and other leaders in Salve Regina’s peer wellness program seek to provide students with the tools and resources to navigate depression, anxiety, stress and difficult topics like suicide and sexual assault awareness. The peer wellness coordinators run a Salve Wellness Instagram account with over 1,300 followers, and they also host events and programs throughout the year. The program currently runs out of the Office of Student Engagement.
Inciarte gained interest in the peer wellness program when she had a difficult time finding community as a first-year student. She was encouraged to take a position in the program, and she’s glad she did. Inciarte speaks highly of the program’s efforts to emphasize creating a safe space for students to feel they belong and are being listened to, especially those making the transition to college.
“[The objective is] to educate the student body and the University community overall on just what it means to be healthy emotionally, physically and so forth,” she said.
Being a peer wellness coordinator means Inciarte still maneuvers the same obstacles as any other student, but she finds empowerment in dealing with taboo topics.
“Different topics can hit home for you,” she said. “With topics like depression and suicide awareness and prevention, it can be empowering to talk about them, especially if you feel like no people are going through the same things, or you yourself are going through it and you feel so alone.”
Help is just a text away
Inciarte also dedicates her time to the national Text Crisis Line, which is an online platform that gives 24/7 crisis intervention or mental health support to struggling individuals. Volunteers are devoted to giving texters the ability to speak openly about their struggles, educate them about appropriate coping skills and provide them with proper resources.
Inciarte joined the program at the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic during the initial lockdown.
“I applied in March 2020 because I knew a lot of people had school as a safe space to work and socialize,” she said. “But with the lockdown, they had no choice but to stay in their toxic environments. So I was like, ‘Okay, like, this seems like a great time to just help people when they need it.’”
Her experience with both the Text Crisis Hotline and the Salve Regina’s peer wellness program has grown Inciarte in many ways. Inciarte has honed in on her communication skills, with both organizations requiring her to communicate calmly and effectively. On campus, she’s must learned to engage with the student body, collaborate with co-leaders and committees, and coordinate with staff and faculty.
But most importantly, Inciarte has fostered many relationships steeped in the mercy mission – both with texters she’s connected with through the hotline and with students who are struggling mentally on Salve Regina’s campus.
As she looks into the future after graduation, Inciarte thinks that her experiences at Salve Regina have taught her to take initiative and be a self-starter, and she hopes to carry these skills into her career someday. She plans to follow a pre-med path in the next few years, continuing her dedication to helping others. No matter what, she wants to help others find wellness and healing, and she’ll always be a merciful face for those struggling.
Article by student writer Catherine Fiocco ’23
Salve Success is a series of student success stories periodically featured on SALVEtoday. Check out the tag Salve Success for more stories.