Despite calendar changes, BU students find ways to focus on mental health
Whether it be a global pandemic, financial hardships, or grief, challenges inevitably arise in life. For students, such stressors are the leading impediment to academic success — which can affect motivation, concentration, and the ability to positively interact with others in the campus community. Thankfully, mental health awareness is growing, and prompting others to talk about it.
For years, Baylor Student Government’s Health Policy Committee has sought to understand the climate of mental health on campus and spearhead initiatives to aid in the student body’s wellbeing. This eventually led to the establishment of “Mental Health Week” in 2019, a time to highlight the mental health issues that students face and offer tips on how to cope with the effects.
Due to changes in the academic calendar and cancelled class days brought on by February’s winter storm, students have not had many opportunities for breaks this semester — which made “Mental Health Week” all the more important this year.
With an eye towards COVID-19, most events were online: Mindful Monday invited students to take part in Self-Care Bingo on Zoom; Wellness Tuesday welcomed groups to play the popular online game “Among Us;” and Talk About It Thursday featured a Zoom panel discussion with mental health experts on campus.
“This annual awareness week aims to teach students new ways to incorporate self-care habits into their busy lifestyles as college students through self-care presentations,” says sophomore Daphne Simo, co-director of health for Baylor Student Government. “Although this year’s event was conducted virtually, we saw a great improvement in the number of students who attended. This speaks to the importance of these conversations.”
Not everything was online, though. Work-It-Out Wednesday offered several workout sessions throughout the day at the SLC and in the SUB. And on Friday, officers set up camp on Fountain Mall to share mental health resources, hold giveaways, and hand out prizes and treats.
“The highlight of the week was definitely the mental health panel and the tabling event on campus,” says senior Sainamitha Palnati, co-director of health for Baylor Student Government. “Many students were empowered by the discussion and learned how to advocate for themselves and their fellow peers’ mental well-being. And of course, Friday’s event offered students the chance to engage with the campus community with purpose.”
In addition to Student Government’s Mental Health Week, junior Ritu Bhatt took over Baylor’s Instagram to share her mental health journey and the various resources the Baylor Counseling Center offers to the Baylor community. Throughout the day, she discussed options for therapeutic services and aspects of the Outreach Program, which aims to provide mental health-related programming focused on the developmental and educational needs of students.
“Life can get messy and hard, but I want students to know they’re never alone,” says Bhatt. “It was an honor to share my story, as well as inform others about resources that can help. Mental health is an ongoing conversation, and we should be open and honest about it.”
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Sic ’em, Bears!