Mental health week takes over campus with a series of events
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the university’s Campus Wellbeing Collaborative held a number of events last week to kick it off.
Speakers, yoga workshops and art installations on The Green were just a few of the many opportunities offered to students to learn more about mental health and get involved with the wellness programs on campus.
On Tuesday, eight-time cancer survivor Woody Roseland spoke to students in Kirkbride Hall about his journey to happiness. Diagnosed with bone cancer at age 16, Roseland told students it was the loss of his left leg at age 21 that drove home the seriousness of his condition.
After moving back in with his father, being left without a car and undergoing a round of chemotherapy each month, Roseland said that he was overwhelmed with the amount of things he needed to “figure out.” However, he knew he had to find a way to cope.
“I couldn’t figure out how to make it through the next year, but I could figure out how to make it through that day,” Roseland said.
Throughout his speech, Roseland emphasized that although he was not at fault for the things in his life that went wrong, he was still responsible for his happiness and well-being.
Roseland started to focus on his photography and filmmaking, and went on to create “The D League,” a comedy based group that creates short films on YouTube.
“To beat cancer, or anything like that, like a breakup or depression, is to get back to who you want to be,” Roseland said.
On Wednesday, the Campus Wellbeing Collaborative set up camp on The Green with tables from various wellness groups, including Student Health, Healthy Hens, Employee Health and Wellbeing, the Center for Black Culture, and the Center for Counseling and Student Development. This was also the first year that they set up an interactive art installation for students.
One installation displayed the quote, “I’m fine but…” and invited students to place pingpong balls in glass columns on the installation, labeled with quotes that would finish the sentence such as “I am not okay,” or “I am afraid of being judged.”
Another installation asked students to write down one thing that makes them happy on a piece of cloth, and tie it to strings on the display, which is now on display in Perkins Student Center.
Addie Moritz, a senior and an Employee Health and Wellbeing intern, explained that the installations are meant to be an anonymous display of how students and staff are truly feeling.
“A lot of times you’re not necessarily being completely honest with the people around you or yourself,” Moritz said. “It’s impactful because as the day goes on you get to see what section has the most pingpong balls and what people feel the most. And then the positivity piece shows how something as small as the beach or something as big as your mom or your dad can make you happy.”
Also on Wednesday, Mike Huggins, a recovery yoga instructor, shared his story of how yogic discipline gave him the strength to endure many hardships. In 2011, Huggins spent nine months in prison for a misdemeanor, but used this time to help fellow inmates find a new purpose in life.
When he was released in 2012, he founded the Transformation Yoga Project, a non-profit group that supports people with traumatic or addictive backgrounds by attempting to heal them with yoga instruction.
Huggins spoke about the connection between the mind and the body and how the physical practice of yoga can be the gateway to a better state of emotional balance, or the “inner work” as Huggins calls it. Huggins said that the recovery yoga he teaches is invitational, allowing people to discover that connection between their mind and body on their own without an instructor telling them what to do, which is particularly important for college students as well.
“They have a lot of pressure on them and the last thing they need is a yoga teacher telling them to lift a leg higher or go deeper into a split,” Huggins said. “We generally spend a lot more time on rest so participants can focus on their breathing and the poses they really want to work on as well.”
Following the presentation, Huggins led a 30-minute yoga session for those who attended.
On Thursday, many Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) participated in Fresh Check Day, an event that highlights the importance of peer-to-peer models and lessens the stigma surrounding mental health promotion and suicide prevention. RSOs offered peer advice for fellow students about mental health resources.
One of the groups at the event was the Lavender Programming Board (LPB), which educated students specifically on mental health statistics as they relate to LGBTQ+ people.
Joe Kim, a junior human services major from Camden, Delaware, and Director of Diversity and Education on the LPB board of directors, created an interactive display with statistics about coming out. Kim explained that LGBTQ+ people face many challenges with mental health due to societal intolerance.
“When we are stunted in one area of our lives, we then begin to disconnect from ourselves and we begin to disconnect from the parts of our identity that are important to us,” Kim said. “So when we don’t find some way to connect those, especially in an educational setting, where you’re also learning about sexual health, soft skills, relationships, coping with academic stress — that lack of connection can definitely spiral into other problems.”
The Center for Counseling and Student Development offers individual and group counseling sessions, and offer walk-in hours on Mondays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Tuesdays through Thursdays 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Afternoon walk-in hours are from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
The UD Helpline 24/7/365, offered through the University of Delaware’s Division of Student Life, provides live counseling assistance over the phone at 302-831-1001.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, confidential support for those in distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.