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Mental Health Holiday gives students an opportunity to breathe

May 9, 2021

With finals around the corner and weather getting warmer, Peer Health is attempting to ensure that mental health and wellness are a top priority on campus. On Saturday, the group hosted a Mental Health Holiday on Dudley Coe Quad from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., providing students an opportunity to get outside and find moments of happiness.

“The Health Holiday was our way to get people to go outside, kind of like a wellness day to do wellness-related tasks, and just kind of get people’s spirits up before finals,” Susu Gharib ’23, a member of next year’s Peer Health Leadership Core (PHLC), said.

The event featured free Bay Bowls, donuts, craft supplies, t-shirts and a health hunt that sent students around campus for activities such as exercising and journaling. Committing to the hunt entered students into a raffle to win a $100 Amazon gift card.

Henry Somerby ’23, a member of Peer Health’s Outdoor Health Promotion group and the PHLC, came up with the idea for the Health Holiday after pushback from students in the wake of the College’s shortened spring break, Mental Health Moments and the Polar Pause.

“We heard from a lot of students who said these mental health elements are very much so a quick fix band-aid solution,” Somerby said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “And I’m not saying the health hunt or the health holiday is a solution, but I think it’s a step in the right direction of showing students the different resources, and also encouraging the resources to get better.”

Across the lawn, games and activities were set up, including Spike Ball, cornhole, coloring and friendship bracelet making. It was an opportunity for students to take a moment to catch their breath and take their minds off of impending deadlines and the end of the semester.

“I think a little morale booster as we’re heading into finals season is really important,” Paloma Aguir ’23, a member of Peer Health, said. “With the weather getting warmer, I think the general spirit on campus has been going up and we’re looking to add to that.”

Students in attendance echoed that the event was a nice break, allowing them small moments of joy during a daunting semester.

“Obviously, large events aren’t feasible, and it’s just the simple little things that are really helping people’s mental health,” Emily Jacobs ’23 said in an interview with the Orient. “I definitely think that this is a much needed event at this point in the semester.”

At 12:30 p.m., Thando Khumalo ’23 led a Zumba class on the quad, providing another way for students to relieve stress and be active.

Somerby hopes Peer Health will implement this event and others like this in the future, and he expects to offer it to incoming first years next fall.

“Especially for the class of 2025, and even for 2024, those students have never experienced campus outside of a pandemic, and I want to make it very clear off the bat what resources we have for them,” Somerby said. “This holiday has essentially laid the framework for next year. And it’s my hope that we will have more events like this to help prioritize health for all students, and also build excitement for everything the college has to offer, from STI testing in the health center, to counseling, to peer to peer support.”


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