By Jack Deegan
From 1 to 3 p.m. on Oct. 13, Mental Health Services (MHS) peer educators hosted their “Scare Your Stress Away” pumpkin painting event, allowing students an opportunity to relax and take a mental health break mid-semester.
Students flocked towards the tables of Alumni Grove even before the event had officially started, with a line forming almost instantly. Students came and went, grabbing their complementary pumpkins and candy and taking a break from the responsibilities of life for a moment to just sit back, relax and paint pretty pumpkins.
“We just wanted something to have people stop by and be fun to do and pick it up and go. It doesn't have to be really time-consuming, just quick and easy and cute,” said MHS peer educator Sami Gottlieb, a junior psychology major.
The event was hosted in order to give students a fun stress-free activity to do and give them a much-needed break from everything else that was going on. There was never a dull moment at the table, with students stopping by and crowding the area for a chance to get in the holiday spirit and raise their own spirits.
“We also just want to get the word out about mental health stigma, decreasing it on campus, just because that is something that a lot of freshmen do struggle with. Especially freshmen and sophomores, they just haven't been in the school environment and they're still adapting to it,” said MHS peer educator Calvin Grigal, a senior biology and anthropology major. “So we would just like to provide them just a stress-reducing outlet and just provide some cards that we're giving out along with the pumpkins just to give the students information about the resources.”
The main goal of the event was to get the word out about the group and to spread the message about all of the resources that MHS and Counseling and Prevention Services (CAPS) can offer. Mental health on campus is a huge priority with many resources that are offered for mental health support. These students work to make these resources more accessible and to show that everyone deals with these struggles. They also deconstruct the dangerous stigmas around mental health to create open and honest communication for students to seek help.
The event was a success, with dozens of students coming up and painting a pumpkin, leaving with a weight off their shoulders and a card full of resources that they are now aware of. The MHS group itself gained a lot of publicity and maybe even some new members to help spread the message, help students with mental health and make new friends,
The MHS peers educators act as liaisons between the campus community and mental health services, providing students with the support and resources needed for any and all mental health help. Anyone can apply to join the club and come together to help their fellow students destigmatize mental health with fun events throughout the year.
“So last year was my first year, and I really liked everything that they were standing for. I really like talking about mental health [and] helping other people with it. And honestly, the group is so fun. We're kind of like a little family, I guess it's so cheesy, but everyone really loves each other and it's just a good way for us to all talk about what we love and also making friends and having a good time and everything,” said Gottlieb.
The MHS peer educators are currently preparing for their biggest event of the year: Stigmonologues. This event is held annually with the goal of raising mental health awareness and being vulnerable with each other. This year it will be taking place on Nov. 11 at 8:30 p.m. The MHS peers can be followed on Instagram at @mhspeereds for mental health tips and more information on all upcoming events.