Mental health awareness just in time for finals
Story and photos by Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
In times that could be considered high stress, sometimes we need to be reminded that we’re not alone, and that’s just what the third annual Mental Health Awareness Week is doing.
Students from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences have set up a table from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Thursday on the Promenade and have activities planned to help spread positivity and self-appreciation among the student body in preparation for finals.
“What we do is reach out to students,” said Imani Steward in between encourage students to come participate. “During the school year, kids get stressed, overwhelmed, homesick. They feel like they have nowhere else to go and no one to talk to. So Mental Health Awareness Week is kind of a reminder that everyone is in this together.”
For some students, it’s a much needed break from all the stress in their day-to-day lives.
“I love it because it’s just a reminder of all the things that we’re missing, especially at the end of the year,” senior Jordan Cooley said. “I’m about to graduate and I just need a break. It’s a little break for everyone.”
One important difference in the initiative: It’s being led by students this time, and they have given it an activity-based awareness rather than a lecture-based structure.
“It’s a little different this year,” said Kathy Britton, manager of the counseling program. “In the first two years we did a series of workshops, Monday through Thursday, that we would invite students to, everything from stress to suicidality, and we got moderate attention for it, so this was the first year that we used a student group to plan it.
“It was mainly student planning that did all these activities with a little bit of faculty oversight, and they decided it should be more activity based and less lecture looking.”
Students can create their own stress balls, a prayer for their own well being and participate in other activities encouraging both a sense of self-appreciation and an appreciation for others. There also are activities promoting calmness and relaxation.
“It’s sort of a therapeutic practice,” Britton said.
From 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday on the Quad, students are invited to what Britton and her students call “Blast from the Past.” They can participate in childhood activities such as Giant Jenga and a freeze dance game and make macaroni necklaces and fuse beads.
“The event is supposed to bring back memories of being a kid again,” Britton said. “So people can enjoy themselves and relax, especially before they hit finals.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]