CMHC sparks conversation about mental health with activity-filled week

Meghan Nguyen

This week’s schedule is full: Yoga, tie-dye and sugar scrubs are just a few of the attractions offered as part of the Counseling and Mental Health Center’s Mental Health Promotion Week.

A wide committee of students, peer educators, CMHC student organization members and volunteers are putting on the weeklong event, now in its third year. The week features interactive events focused on promoting mental health resources and instilling healthy habits that are conducive to mental well-being, said Kelsey Lammy, mental health promotion coordinator for the CMHC. Common themes throughout the events include self-care, mindfulness, gratitude, resilience and inclusivity.

On Monday, students visited interactive booths and collected stickers to earn prizes on the Flawn Academic Center patio. Be Kind to Your Mind Fest, the kickoff event for the week, highlighted various CMHC resources including workshops, volunteer opportunities and classes. The Thrive at UT iPhone app was one resource highlighted at Monday’s events. The app helps busy students make small changes in their routines to enhance their well-being.

“This is actually the first time that (Be Kind to Your Mind Fest) has been this well-received and engaging for the UT community,” said Zachary Markizer, CMHC peer educator and public health sophomore. “Though we’ve done this event before, it’s always been at a smaller scale.”

CMHC is partnering with Tejas Club to host a talk on self-care Thursday evening. On Friday, students can de-stress with therapy dogs on East Mall and then participate in the Unplug UT campaign, signing a pledge online to “unplug” for any amount of time to do more fulfilling activities.

“I think we live in an age where we often think of social connections as connections we cultivate over technology,” Lammy said. “Disconnecting from technology can help you be more present in the moment and connect with others.”

Melina Acosta, graduate student and prevention and outreach assistant at the CMHC, said normalizing conversations about mental health is integral to eliminating the stigma surrounding it.

“Research shows that the majority of mental health conditions manifest between the teenage years and mid-20s,” Acosta said. “Many people in this age group find themselves at institutions of higher education, making it of utmost importance for colleges and universities to have appropriate mental health resources and a mental health climate on campus that promotes discussions about help-seeking behaviors.”