Lower campus dorms promote mental health
Event provides information and opportunities for responding to stress and anxiety. | Thecla Li/THE CHIMES
Mental Health Awareness Week, an event designed to raise awareness on the importance of mental health, expanded to include all three lower campus dorms on Oct. 23-27.
ADDRESSING AN UNMET NEED
While last semester the resident advisors of Hope Hall hosted the event, this semester coordinators decided they could reach more students by having the RAs and resident directors of other dorms participate in the activities, according to Hope South RD Anne Warner. Warner also hopes to make the event a tradition on campus and would like to involve all dorms in the future.
The event, now known as Mental Health Awareness Week, featured stress relieving components, including offering free Chick-Fil-A meals, and informational sessions, such as a panel discussion on the impacts of mental health.
“There’s a lot of people on campus who we know experience things like depression, anxiety and things along those lines, and we didn’t see that need being met, to be helped to deal with that,” said Savannah Ozier, Hope RA and and senior elementary education major. “As RAs we get a sheet of how many students come in feeling this kind of way, and it was excessive… getting that information of statistics, how many people deal with mental health issues just kind of further proves that we need this.”
Hart Hall partnered with Hope for the first part of the event, with volunteers near Fluor Fountain handing out stress balls while explaining some facts about mental health. Students could also write on a board to express their beliefs concerning what people associate with mental health and what they wish people associated with it.
“We’re trying to address some of the messages that people receive about mental health that are negative, like that they feel embarrassed or ashamed or that they should pray it away or that they can’t talk about it. We don’t want people to feel alone,” Warner said.
BARKING UP A CONVERSATION
While Mental Health Awareness Week provided information about recognizing the impacts of anxiety, the event also offered some opportunities for students to reduce their stress. For instance, students lined up to play with puppies on the Hope lawn.
Sophomore marketing management major Tinisee Kandakai believes the experience allows for greater empathy between students.
“I think it gives us a chance to understand a lot of the different needs and how they’re met at Biola, because we have a lot of people whose needs are met through service dogs,” Kandakai said. “I think it gives an opportunity to experience that just for a little while and appreciate it.”
Internship training director at the Biola Counseling Center Michele Willingham, who informed students of the BCC’s services during the event, believes students should also acknowledge the importance of their own mental health.
“The whole point here is your mental health and well-being are equally important as your school work and your nutrition and your physical health, but we don’t tend to talk about this much. [It] kind of has some stigma attached to it, so we want to make sure that students know, ‘No, this is important and you should be talking about it,’” Willingham said.