UPUA To Hold Mental Health And Wellness Week

On an immense college campus like Penn State’s, sometimes it’s hard to avoid feeling lost in the noise. UPUA aimed to change that when it began the initiative for Mental Health and Wellness Week, and the next installment of the program will begin right after Thanksgiving break.

The primary focus of the program is all about getting the word out in the first place — Mental Health and Wellness week volunteers aim to facilitate honest conversation and create an environment in which participants feel comfortable discussing a variety of topics centered around mental health. The goal is to teach students that mental health issues on a college campus are a lot more common than they might think through education and interactive programs.

“We want to educate students by encouraging them to hear stories from their peers who have suffered from mental illness,” said Kyra Rogan, Chair of UPUA’s Student Life Committee. “Through education, we hope to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness so that, if needed, they feel that they can reach out for help if they ever find themselves in a similar scenario.” 

Since its initial onset, the program has tried to grow in its accessibility to students across campus. Mental Health and Wellness Week 2016 will include larger and more interactive events than there have been in the past. With a wider variety of events spread across numerous spots on campus, Rogan hopes students will feel comfortable participating in activities once they see more of their peers doing the same.

“By creating much larger and more visible events and programs throughout the week, we are doing our best to engage as many students as possible,” Rogan said. 

Each day of the week will include a set of different table activities for students to participate in. Make your own stress ball, flower planting, and a raffle for free fitness class passes are just a few of the events that will take place in the HUB. Students will also have the opportunity to contribute their own personal experiences by adding a film clip to a video compilation created throughout the week. Each day there will be a table with various resources and a sign which students can tie a ribbon onto to take a vow to prioritize mental health and wellness. 

In addition to table events, students can attend various speaking events and workshops around campus during the week. Monday’s events will also include a “Call to Action” at 3 p.m. in 233A HUB. The goal of the Call to Action is to highlight the importance of health and well-being and to discuss the current state of funding for Penn State’s counseling services. Keynote speaker Lauren Cook will also give a presentation on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in 119 Osmond.

The volunteers hope this year’s Mental Health and Wellness Week will appeal to all kinds of students across campus, regardless of their personal connection to the cause. The event aims to include all members of the community and to spark an environment that students can become more connected to simply by learning from each other.

“This is such an important issue for students to engage in because mental illness truly affects every single person in some way or another,” Rogan said. “By educating students and creating a more inclusive campus environment when it comes to mental health, we can create a culture change that can help students more effectively prioritize their own and their peers’ mental health.”

About the Author

Claire Fountas

Claire Fountas is the student life editor for Onward State, as well as a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and psychology. She lives in a suburb of Chicago and strongly disagrees with anyone who hates the Cubs or the Blackhawks (so, pretty much anyone at Penn State). You can follow her @ClaireFountas or email her at [email protected]

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