Written by Aimee Reece, FDLTCC Student
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College hosted its first-ever Mental Health Awareness Week during February 5-9, 2018. Each day was filled with several events and activities to help combat and bring recognition to mental health challenges.
“The goal of this week was to provide some ideas about how we can cope with everyday stressors and maintain good health,” said Russell Swagger, Dean of Student Services. “Please take time for yourselves daily and treat yourself to the things that in life that are healthy and make you happy.”
Mental Health Week aimed to raise awareness and to create a positive environment where students, faculty, and alumnus were comfortable openly discussing the rise of mental health challenges in our society. These challenges are especially present in colleges.
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College let its students know that there are many ways that they can receive help if they are struggling with mental health.
“Due to this time of year, certain obstacles and difficult situations can compile with people, so the timing seemed right to help people understand that there are resources to help them,” said student services staff Jeremy Wilson.
Mental Health Week consisted of several fun, encouraging, and therapeutic activities to help relieve stress and challenges that people may be facing.
“There was a small committee consisting of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College students and a few faculty that was formed and came up with the idea,” explained Ashley Tegels, campus Social Worker and chairperson of the committee responsible for Mental Health Week. “Last semester a speaker was scheduled to come to the college and give a speech on suicide prevention, but ended up not being able to make it. This sparked the idea of forming a committee in charge of dedicating a week to raise awareness of mental health.”
The beginning of Mental Health Week kicked off with a drum opening and a build-your-own-taco lunch in the commons. Activities that followed included laughing yoga, which is a great way to relax and laugh your stress away, a visit of several friendly little animals from the Lake Superior Zoo Zoomobile, some Animal Allies dogs, as well as a few lectures and educational activities.
These events served to help students relieve their stress as well as teaching the importance of mental health.
“A highlight for me was the Sun Spot bus,” Ashley Tegels said. The Sun Spot, a light therapy bus, was a popular attraction visiting campus on Tuesday afternoon. The Sun Spot is a 16-seater bus designed with bright and UVB lighting. The goal of this bus is to combat Vitamin D deficiency and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
“A highlight for me was seeing several alums came back and participate in these events,” said Jeremy Wilson. “Also, seeing students engage and come out of their comfort zone, with no negative effects, and seeing their reactions.”
The Student Family Support Center provided the funding to make the week possible, as well as the wonderful staff and students who made the first ever Mental Health Week an overall success.