For a little more than hour, a huge black poster on the West Mall lit up with stress-reducing strategies in fluorescent writing Tuesday afternoon.
The colorful display was the focal point of the Alpha Phi Sigma Pre-Health Honor Society’s first-ever “Stand Up for Mental Health” event. Chapter president Rishabh Kothari said the event was created to educate students on the importance of mental health and promote various health-related resources available on campus.
“Sharing your thoughts and expressing what you like to do to relieve stress is a great way to actually reduce your stress,” said Kothari, a biochemistry senior. “We thought it would be cool to make these boards where people can come and write and share their thoughts and hopefully reduce their stress in their process.”
Those who wrote on the boards received goodie bags filled with stress balls, pens, pins and informational pamphlets. Among the contributors was undeclared freshman Ashley Frey, who said she deals with stress by eating ice cream and was drawn to the event because of the colorful words on the board.
“I enjoyed looking at what other people wrote as inspiration for new ways to deal with stress,” Frey said. “It’s also reassuring to see that I’m not the only one who gets stressed because it’s easy to sometimes feel like you’re alone.”
Emmett Kennady, chapter treasurer and chemistry senior, said he and Kothari came up with the idea for the event shortly after the on-campus stabbing last May as a way to reduce stress for his fellow students.
“Friends of the assailant observed that, in the weeks prior to the attack, he was acting strangely, and I thought to myself, ‘Would I be able to intervene if I saw one of my friends acting in a strange way?” Kennady said. “That got me thinking about what I can do in the community to increase awareness for mental health.”
Kennady said the event was strategically planned to take place shortly before final exams, one of the most stressful times of the semester.
“This is a really important time for students, but it can also be a really stressful time,” Kennady said. “The biggest thing we’re emphasizing to students is that mental health comes first. Through our encouraging, we hope they will make stress management a priority during finals season and beyond.”