Students feeling stressed over midterms have a unique opportunity to relax at one of the many special events held this week in honor of Mental Health Awareness Week 2007.
The five-day-long series of events is co-sponsored by Health Outreach Peer Educators and the College’s Counseling Center.
Kate McEnerney ’08 is vice president of the Mental Health Branch of HOPE. “It’s a great chance for the campus to continue to talk about mental health,” McEnerney said. “William and Mary students have a deep commitment to our academics, our student organizations, our volunteer work and other activities. We don’t take much time for ourselves. This lack of balance makes for stressed-out students.”
p. McEnerney added that Mental Health Awareness Week is designed to teach students skills that they can utilize long after this event is over. “We want to help students practice better mental health — a practice that will hopefully become a habit,” she said.
p. The week kicked off Sunday with a screening of “A Beautiful Mind” followed by s’mores on the University Center Terrace. Yesterday, free de-stress kits were handed out at the UC and Swem Library. Kelly Crace, Ph.D., also spoke in Lodge 1 on “Making Perfectionism and Procrastination Work for You.”
p. “We are continuing events students have enjoyed in the past and adding some new ones that we think are really good,” HOPE President Devin Miller ’08 said.
p. Today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Crim Dell Meadow, there will be a Siesta Fiesta featuring free massages, snacks and a napping area. At 3:15 the Meditation Club will offer a free meditation session. A free yoga class will be offered tonight at 6:15 at the Rec Center.
p. Tomorrow’s Mental Health Screening Day is the focal point of Mental Health Awareness Week. This nation-wide event is designed to screen for mental disorders and raise awareness across the country. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the UC and the Commons Dining Hall, representatives from the Counseling Center will give free individualized mental health screenings.
p. “Mental Health Screening Day is one of my favorites because it gives students immediate face-to-face time with William and Mary counselors,” McEnerney said. “It’s a great opportunity for students to talk about their concerns in an accessible but private atmosphere.”
p. Paws to Relax, one of the week’s most popular events, will take place Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in front of the UC. Volunteers will bring trained therapy dogs with which students can play and pet.
“My favorite event is Paws to Relax because they bring puppies,” Kim Parker ’08, secretary of Sexual Health for HOPE said. “I’ll be there the whole time.”
p. Catalina Esguerra ’08 has attended Paws to Relax for the past two years. “I absolutely love dogs. It’s one of those security blanket things that reminds you of home and family,” she said. “Dogs are so friendly. They’re like kids. They’re just happy to be around you, no matter what.”
p. Mental Health Awareness Week holds greater importance than most College students realize. In spring 2005, 1,750 College students took the College Health Assessment Survey. 54 percent reported sleep-deprivation three to five nights per week, 68 percent reported feeling overwhelmed one to 10 times during the past year, 53 percent reported feelings of hopelessness and 8.9 percent reported having seriously contemplated suicide.
p. “It’s actually been documented in several studies that people with higher intelligence are more susceptible to disappointments and have a harder time coping with stress and set-backs,” McEnerney said. “William and Mary students, being extremely intelligent, may have difficulty coping with stress, which may lead into other mental health problems, such as severe anxiety and depression.”