There were stress balls, tai chi, Shrinky Dinks and free massages, and Stress Reduction fair at the University of Wisconsin’s Education Building was in full force Tuesday evening.
Associate Students of Madison and University Health Services teamed up with student organizations across campus to host the Stress Reduction Fair in effort to raise awareness for campus mental health resources and provide stress-relieving activities.
Kayla Van Cleve, ASM intern and event planner, said the fair was important to students as stress can take away from student productivity and possibly hurt mental well-being. She added that many resources on campus are available to students who find themselves overwhelmed by stress.
Such organizations as Supporting Peers in Laid Back Listening, Active Minds, YES+, Ask Listen Save, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Slow Food UW, To Write Love On Her Arms and the McBurney Disability Resource Center, set up booths and were given the opportunity to promote themselves and provide outreach to students.
Although many mental health resources are provided on campus, UW freshman Joy Hartl said they are often not well-publicized.
“The school provides enough programs, but they are not necessarily promoted well or easily accessible,” Hartl said.
Van Cleve agreed and said the goal of the fair was to help students realize what resources are available on campus, especially since multiple student organizations are dedicated to promoting mental wellness.
Dennis Christoffersen, UHS psychologist, said a mission of UHS is to rid the stigma of suicide and mental health illness while providing 24-hour crisis service to students, adding that UHS wants “to reduce the barriers to care.”
“We try to create wellness for students, not just intervention,” said Christoffersen.
Catherine Abitz, treasurer of Ask Listen Save, said her student organization has a similar message in trying to rid the stigma of suicide and depression by providing students with knowledge on the subject while advertising resources for professional help.
Matt Vohl, president of NAMI, agreed and said there is a need to reduce the stigma of mental illness. He added NAMI offers a program called Peer Active Listeners for students to drop in and talk to other students.
“It’s basically an active ear and a bridge to better resources,” said Vohl
Corinne Burgermeister, vice president of marketing for the student organization SPILL, said students can send anonymous emails to their organizations website, Badgerspill.com, for support in relationships, school, roommates, finances and other issues.
According to Van Cleve, all of the organizations represented at the fair promoted the message that preventative care is helpful in mental well-being.
“All of these organizations are dedicated to helping students,” Van Cleave said, adding that she would like to thank each organization for their participation.