Mental Health week, a much-anticipated tradition begun several years ago by StudCo, kicked off last week with its most ambitious agenda yet. Through collaborations with clubs on campus, after-school events, and informational sessions, the week built upon recommendations from previous years to spark critical dialogue about mental health on campus.
Unlike previous years, Mental Health Week commenced with a school-wide assembly. Students council representatives, IMSA staff, and two guests delivered speeches and showcased solidarity among students and staff. Highlights included Dr. Colleen Cira, who discussed her ongoing struggle with mental health, and Stanford Medical Student Mamatha Challa (IMSA ’09), who commended the educational events and suggested providing formal training for students to recognize symptoms in their peers.
Students’ reception of the assembly was varied, with some expressing frustration over the lengthy event and others applauding the speakers. Sarah Yow (’20) thought the assembly was an appropriate start to the week. “I think it was nice to have a speaker who was open about her struggles and optimistic about the future,” she said. Dr. Colleen Cira had shared about her experiences with anxiety and depression and stressed the importance of seeking help.
Compared to last year, the organization of and publicity surrounding events improved. Student council representatives posted week-long schedules over Facebook and sent daily emails, allowing students to be aware of all events for each day. “It was much more effective covering it that way instead of doing so many events at once,” says Grace Yu (’20). Also, throughout the week, the majority of students sported MHI wristbands in a unified demonstration of support.
Partnerships with various clubs also allowed for a wide breadth of activities. Heliotrope, eXercise And Athletics (XAA), Fashion and Beauty (FAB), Spreading Dance Across Campus (SDAC), and ISP held their personalized versions of MHI Week events. Notably, FAB’s aromatherapy event on Wednesday attracted crowds of people seeking to create their own oil-based perfumes, and over one hundred students turned up for the ISP photoshoot to promote self-love and mental health awareness.
The agenda overall was a balance between informational and recreational events. As usual, therapy dog proved to be one of the most popular events, with spaces filling up for time slots in a matter of days. The Burn Your Stressors campfire allowed students to physically rid themselves of the stresses plaguing them throughout the week. Through events on perfectionism, toxic relationships, college stress, and mental health specific to IMSA, students became exposed to a variety of coping tactics and information relevant to their experiences at the academy.
Student’s Council’s long efforts to hold mental health week largely paid off through the event attendance and general support shown by students. Although it only occurred for a flash of September, MHI week has certainly left its mark as one of the most memorable weeks of the semester.