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Wellness Educator Training

Workplace Training Solutions

Prepared by Dr Arien van der Merwe


Medical Specialist Health and Wellbeing



Summary, goal and outcomes proposal:

This Course can be utilised as a five day attendance course, and with practical work assignments added, can become a 3 month NQF 5 and NQF 8 Course as adjunct to other existing Wellness Related Courses


Wellness Educators have to develop the following skills set as an inherent part of the training:

  • Knowledge of the subject being trained on. In this instance health and wellness education on various related subjects (refer to content outline further on)
  • Understanding and discussing the concept of roll models: we are not only our physical bodies. Often those who seem, on the surface, to be poor roll models, make the best peer educators/wellness champions! This concept is explored and discussed extensively.
  • Communication skills: listening, interpreting messages, correct and persuasive communication skills, body language
  • Public speaking skills
  • Preparing a Powerpoint presentation from articles, Web-site info and books
  • How to facilitate a learning process
  • How to facilitate a behaviour change process
  • Ability to accept people of different beliefs, values, cultures, races, genders, religions, sexual orientation
  • Encourage analytical skills: questioning why & how you’ve always done things a certain way, also unquestioned beliefs that perpetuates from generation to generation; building new neural networks, reprogramming the brain for health enhancing behaviour
  • Monitoring and evaluation skills
  • Simple research skills
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Ability to evolve emotional support
  • Problem solving skills
  • Basic project management skills
  • Basic report writing skills

The primary purpose of Wellness Educators and Practitioners is to facilitate positive, health enhancing behaviours and decrease negative, risky, health harming behaviours.


Manuals for Wellness Educators: Content and more information


Module 1

Day 1-2: Definitions & models of wellness, wellness educator training, and a long term vision for wellness. Qualities, boundaries, limitations of a good peer educator / wellness champion. Stress management (incl. life change management), nutrition, wellness food gardens, fitness and wellness, basic anatomy & physiology – know how your body and mind work. Mental-emotional wellbeing.

Module 2

Day 3-4: Chronic diseases of lifestyle to integrate the learning model: as per company request:e.g. Heart (hypertension, high cholesterol, stroke, heart attacks); Immune system health (HIV/Aids, TB, cancer, colds/flu); Diabetes & blood sugar balance; Musculoskeletal health, using osteoporosis & osteoarthritis as examples; Male & Female reproductive health; Mental-emotional health, using dysthymia &depression as examples.

Day 5-6: Presentations by each wellness educator trainer, using a poster presentation as aid. Each trainer will be evaluated by themselves, their group and the course facilitators. After the successful completion, each trainer will receive a Company / Health Stress Management certificate.

Ongoing support and refresher courses are advised, 2-3 times a year to provide sustainability of motivational levels, while increasing knowledge and information basis.


Learning Outcomes

After completion of this course, candidates should:

  • Be able to define & conceptualise wellness and understand the important effect of the educational approach for sustainable and lasting health and wellness behaviour change.
  • Have a clear understanding of the roles, qualities, limitations of good wellness educators
  • Have a workable knowledge of basic anatomy, physiology, wellness, nutrition, stress management, fitness and mental-emotional health, and be able to teach this to others
  • Understand how to integrate the above into a practical wellness solution driven approach to health and wellness.
  • Be able to use chronic diseases of lifestyle(or rather, health challenges) as an integrative model to finding lasting solutions for these.
  • Be able to understand the benefit in regarding HIV/Aids as one of the CDL’s, rather than a loose standing entity
  • Be able to facilitate a series of lectures to wellness educators in various workplace settings.
  • Have good, experiential knowledge of presentation skills, capturing and holding audience attention and facilitation skills


The output will include:

  1. Training Curriculum
  2. Training Manuals: Wellness Educators

Additional training tools:                                                                                   

  • Posters per topic as teaching aids                                                                
  • Evaluation process of training outcomes and knowledge gained, with certificates on successful completion of training modules. This will be done through an assignment as well as the practical presentation.

Central to our understanding of the training is that there is a recognised need for a broader approach to employee health and wellness, as opposed to the previous focus on HIV/AIDS only. The wellness educator training programs encourage an integrated approach to addressing all the chronic diseases of lifestyle as identified during the preliminary discussions with the company, and through our research on disease profiles in South Africa.

Also central to our understanding of the assignment is that wellness educator training will, of course, have a much further extension than only the workplace: it reaches into the family, the community, ultimately having an effect on the health and wellbeing of the whole country, thereby addressingskills development and social responsibility requirements.

Wellness educator trainers are there to impart knowledge and practical information, encourage, support, and promote healthy living, to create a ripple effect throughout the workforce, families and communities. It is quite clear from the feedback reports that peer educator training could also become a very effective employee assistance program (EAP)

Examples of the chronic diseases of lifestyle (CDL’s) contributing to the burden of disease in the workplace (In wellness terminology CDL’s are preferably referred to as HEALTH CHALLENGES):

  • Heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Depression
  • Lung diseases, e.g. tuberculosis,asthma, bronchitis, emphysema
  • Arthritis
  • Company specific health challenges as requested



Training manuals – sample content



  1. My wellness profile 
  2. My stress profile                                                                                                    
  3. Why do I want to be a wellness educator/practitioner?                                                          
  4. What are the qualities, boundaries, limitations of a good wellness educator? (Group activity) 
  5. Since becoming a wellness educator, what have you as a group, been doing to promote wellness, and/or what would you like to accomplish? (Group activity)        

Anatomy 101:

Know your body from outside, in (LECTURE 1)

Organs and systems (LECTURE 2)                                                                                   

Physiology 101:

The cell and its functions. DNA basics. (LECTURE 3)                                                     

The food story: back to basics(LECTURE 4)                                                                              


Understanding stress (LECTURE 5)          Stress anatomy & physiology (LECTURE 5)

Symptoms of stress (LECTURE 6)              The body’s involvement with stress (LECTURE 6)                                            

Stress, chronic disease and other health challenges (LECTURE 7)                                              

Stress and substance abuse (LECTURE 8)                                                                                         

Stress solutions (LECTURE 9-12)                                                                                              


Definitions & Aspects (LECTURE 13)     

Wellness versus disease management, Iceberg Model, Illness-Wellness Continuum (LECTURE 14-15)    

Nutrition (LECTURE 16-18)                                                                                     

Self sustainable wellness food garden (LECTURE 19 – 20)                                                     

Thoughts, emotions, health, dis-ease with additional notes on neuropeptides, the molecules of emotion (LECTURE 21)

Spiritual wellness and how to apply it in a practical context (LECTURE 22-23)



Opening your heart

  1. Heart health: High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke (LECTURE 24-28)
  2. Immune system health:
    • HIV/Aids (LECTURE 29-32)
    • Colds, flu (LECTURE 33, 34)
    • Cancer (LECTURE 35)
  3. Mental health: depression (LECTURE 36)

Looking for the sweetness in life

Blood sugar balance: Diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance, low blood sugar (LECTURE 37-40)

Endocrine health: Male & Female reproductive health and sexuality (LECTURE 41-44)

Integrating what you’ve learnt so far (Revision Session 1)

  •  Training/facilitation by Dr Arien van der Merwe
  • Training Manual in full colour
  • Set of 12 posters A2 size, full colour, laminated and bound in a display set
  • Books Health and Happiness, Stress Solutions and relaxation CD

Company Information

Health Stress Management Gauteng has many years of experience, and therefore an extensive list of clients in the mining, parastatal, government services, corporate, banking and manufacturing sectors and offers a comprehensive range of training, consulting and advisory services that aim to improve the status of employee health and wellbeing, by providing lasting health and wellness solutions to address the burden of disease. This translates into improved productivity and creativity, with decreased absenteeism, sick leave and presenteeism, thereby showing that wellness is a good return on investment.

We believe in a holistic, integrative approach to manage health and wellness risks, and therefore designs and implements comprehensive and integrated solutions.

As Medical Specialist Health and Wellbeing, Dr. Arien van der Merwe acts as wellness advisor and consultant, health and wellness coach and trainer, workplace peer/wellness educator trainer, stress expert, product and program developer to the health care industry, companies, interest groups, websites and the media.

Dr van der Merwe assists companies in recognising the importance and effects of workplace wellness chronic diseases of lifestyle, (incl. HIV/AIDS) programs, by identifying their impact through measurable return on investment protocols on company wellness investments. She advocates the importance of employees learning and understanding that managing preventable health conditions will benefit both themselves and ultimately their employer (and livelihood) through the impact their health has on the bottom line of their company’s financial success.

The focus and emphasis of this specialist corporate health and wellness service provider company are on education and training to address and manage, the burden of disease caused by the chronic lifestyle diseases (or rather health challenges!) through health, wellness and stress management training, as well as practical workplace wellness interventions. We present and facilitate talks, workshops and courses throughout South Africa and abroad, as well as practical training and support of existing company health teams to become independent wellness consultants within the company.

1. Training and education

  • Wellness, peer educator or wellness task team member training on integrated health and wellness, basic anatomy & physiology, nutrition, stress management & chronic lifestyle disease management, incorporatingall the chronic diseases (e.g. heart, immune system, diabetes mellitus, cancer, HIV/Aids, osteoarthritis, TB, emphysema, etc.), substance abuse, mental-emotional wellbeing, etc.
  • Facilitation and implementation of accredited training courses for wellness, HR, occupational health teams, to manage in-house programs: current accredited short courses in wellness educator training (previously known as peer educator training when only based on HIV/Aids training), stress management and wellness in the workplace through the University of Pretoria
  • Education material & content, as well as marketing material:
    • Manuals
    • Books
    • Newsletters
    • Posters
    • Internet & intranet assisted wellness program development and providing of content
    • Pay slip notices
    • CD’s
    • Booklets
    • Brochures
    • Banners
  • Talks, workshops, courses, seminars and retreats. In-house & outsourced teams of expert speakers, trainers & facilitators, covering a wide range of topics. Examples include practical stress management; motivational, business & financial matters; wellness, integrative & complementary medicine for common ailments; healthy nutrition, with practical food demo’s, menu & shopping list planning; thoughts, emotions, beliefs & your reality; chronic lifestyle disease management and mental-emotional health. Topic examples: heart health, stress management, HIV/Aids, nutrition, wellness, integrative medicine, mental-emotional health, herbal remedies, spiritual health, food supplements, disease as teacher, wellness day teasers & notices

2. Wellness days & health screenings with reports and wellness solutions based on findings

3. Personal consultations that include advice, explanation and ongoing support in a wellness based, whole being approach/philosophy on living a balanced life of health, happiness, meaning and purpose


The spin offs (such as life skill training, leadership development) from the basic training in health, wellness and an integrative whole being approach to the chronic diseases of lifestyle, are very encouraging. It is also a clear indication of the success of wellness educator training as a workplace wellness intervention, and the only intervention to consistently demonstrate long term, lasting and sustainable, health behaviour change. Developing life skills and leadership qualities, experiencing personal growth, learning to manage emotions, increased self esteem and self confidence, lowering blood pressure, improving the health and wellbeing of colleagues, friends, family and community, all added to the increase in knowledge on health and wellness, show that wellness educator training has to be one of the best return on investment wellness interventions available today. WET is also becoming a powerful EAP tool, as employees learn to trust their Wellness Champions and discuss problems with them rather than a call centre assistant. Wellness Champions then refer to the necessary health professionals for further management.

Please feel free to contact me should you have any queries

Yours in health and wellness

Dr Arien van der Merwe MBChB FRSPH MISMA

Medical Specialist Health and Wellbeing

Director: Health Stress Management Gauteng (Pty) Ltd

Cell. 083 731 2049



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