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Health & Wellness

Spring into Wellness Tonight

Health fair: tips for improving mental health, info about campus resources

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If you are interested in mental health advocacy or want to learn more about mental health resources on campus and in the Boston area, head over to Warren Towers tonight for Wellness & Prevention Service’s Spring into Wellness Fair. The event offers a welcoming environment that encourages students to learn about a range of mental health issues, including self-care, stress management, mindfulness, and suicide prevention.

“The three main goals of the fair are to provide students with tools and tips for improving their own mental health, to help students learn strategies for supporting their peers, and to introduce students to helpful and accessible health resources on campus,” says Erica Schonman, Wellness Program coordinator. “We hope that this event and events like it help to decrease stigma and misconceptions around mental health and empower students to be proactive and confident in caring for themselves and others. We believe that the fair will help to start a meaningful campus conversation about mental health.”

The event isn’t all serious, however. There will be free food, prizes, and massages , as well as interactive games. Therapy dogs will be on hand to help relieve stress.

The number of students seeking help for mental health issues has risen sharply on college campuses in recent years, and BU is no exception. Clinicians from Behavioral Medicine at Student Health Services report that they have seen the number of students jump, from 647 in the 2014–2015 academic year to 906 last year; the number of students who required medical transports for psychiatric evaluation rose from 120 in 2014–2015 to 134 last year.

“Over the past year or so we’ve noticed that mental health is definitely something that we need to address right now on campus,” says Melody Eaton (CAS’17) lead student health ambassador for Wellness & Prevention Services, who is volunteering at tonight’s fair. “A lot of our efforts have begun to focus more on mental health over the last year. We are trying to make the topic of mental health more of an open conversation and also break down the stigma associated with mental illness.”

Last spring, Wellness & Prevention Services partnered with Student Health Services and the BU Peer Health Exchange to host a similar event, Fresh Check Day, which was founded by the Jordan Porco Foundation, a nonprofit that is dedicated to preventing suicide among young people. Schonman says that this year Wellness & Prevention Services decided to host its own event to better fit the needs of BU students,.

Tonight’s Spring into Wellness fairwill feature a ball pit, where students can strike up a conversation with someone new. The exercise is designed to highlight the importance of community.

Tonight’s Spring into Wellness Fair will feature a ball pit, where students can strike up a conversation with someone new. The exercise is designed to highlight the importance of community.

Tonight’s fair, being held in the Warren Towers Cinema Room, will have booths, many of them interactive. For example, the “Look for the Good” booth will allow students to play giant Jenga and learn about the correlation between gratitude and mental well-being. At the “Love Your Stripes” booth, students can paint pride-themed watercolors while learning about some of the mental health challenges that affect the LGBTQ+ community. There will also be a “Love Is Louder” photo booth, which will emphasize the importance of community and compassion. Other activities include a free Zumba class with a FitRec instructor and free massages provided by Massage HealthOne.

Students will be given stamp cards that function as a kind of passport. Those who visit at least five booths will be entered to win prizes, such as Beats headphones, FitRec passes, Target gift cards, and other wellness-themed items.

“I think it is really great that the community is coming together for the fair. It is an intentional and deliberate way of engaging in self-care and making it a part of what we stand for as a community,” says Ramya Ravindrababu (CAS’17), a Spring into Wellness volunteer and the founder and chair of the Student Government Mental Health Committee.

In addition to Wellness & Prevention Services staff and BU Student Health Ambassadors, others participating: representatives from Behavioral Medicine, theSexual Assault Response & Prevention Center (SARP), Student Government’s Mental Health Committee, FitRec, BU HUGS, the BU Arts Initiative, Disability Services, Sargent Choice, the BU Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Bedsider, the Collegiate Recovery Program, the BU Nutrition & Wellness Club, Active Minds at Boston University, Actively Moving Forward at BU, the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI), and the Samaritans, a suicide prevention hotline.

“The fair aims to create a welcoming, casual atmosphere where students can connect with a topic that might otherwise be intimidating,” says Schonman. “By putting students at ease, we hope that they feel comfortable engaging and learning about mental health.”

The Spring into Wellness Fair is today, Monday, March 20, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Cinema Room at Warren Towers, 700 Commonwealth Ave. The fair is free and open to all BU students, faculty, and staff.

Those seeking free, confidential mental health counseling can contact Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine, available 24 hours a day for psychiatric emergencies (617-353-3569), the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation (617-353-3549), the Danielsen Institute (617-353-3047), and the Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders (617-353-9610). Faculty and staff can contact BU’s Faculty & Staff Assistance Office (617-353-5381). The Active Minds student support group is best reached through its Facebook page. Actively Moving Forward at BU can also be reached through its Facebook page. The Samaritans of Boston suicide prevention hotline is (877-870-4673). For crises related to crime and interpersonal or sexual violence, BU’s Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center crisis counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (617-353-SARP 7277). If you, or someone you know, have questions about drug or alcohol use, Wellness & Prevention Services can help (617-358-0485). Students who require academic or other accommodations for a psychological disability can also consult with BU’s Disability Services (617-353-3658). Accommodations and services could include testing modifications, reduced course load, developing skills in self-advocating with faculty, executive functioning coaching, and more. Services are free and confidential.

Liz Vanderau can be reached at vanderau@bu.edu.

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