September 25, 2023

Puppies, games, stars, mandalas, Play-Doh, and labyrinths were on campus this past Thursday. Where did all of these things come togeter? The Alive! Mental Health Fair of course.

On Thursday, Oct. 24, the Tiger Counseling Center hosted its second Alive! Mental Health Fair. There were four tables that were brought to campus by Alive! Mental Health Fair, Brain, the Graffitti Wall, the Secret Table, and Fact or Fiction. This year, the Womyn’s Center, Weaver Chapel Association, GSDA, the Writing Center, Concerned Black Students, RHA and the Counseling Center all had tables as well. Of course, the raffle was present again this year, as was the music.

At the Brain table, students had the opportunity to match symptoms with the mental and personality disorders they go with. This year, there were six new disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Social Anxiety Disorder and Schizophrenia. The new disorders presented a challenge to anyone who had tried Brain in April, during the first Alive! Mental Health Fair.

Meanwhile, at the Fact or Fiction table, participants are read statements and asked to identify whether they are true or false. Some statements seemed obvious, but there were others, one involving seasons and depression, that could be a little trickier. This table was a good one for getting new information in a quick and nonjudgmental environment while also having fun. There were typically several students playing together, could make the game go by quickly, as students competed to see who can get the answer right and, sometimes, they were asked to give a reason as to why they said a statement was true or false.

The Graffitti Wall and Secret Table were individual activities. The Graffitti Wall is where students could write encouraging statements directed to anyone about mental health and recovery. The Secret Table is where students could write a secret on the back of a postcard and place it in a box. If the secret was written before the fair, it could be put on a wall where nobody knows who wrote it. One trivial secret was “I’m lactose intolerant, but I still eat ice cream,” which shows that the secrets placed on the wall do not need to be deep and related to mental health or illness.

The Womyn’s Center was giving out pens, cups and, of course, condoms, while also providing information about warning signs in relationships. Warning signs in relationships that are ignored can lead to trust problems, decreased self-esteem, anxiety, and even depression. The dangers of ignoring these signs can always be found outside the Womyn’s Center, and advocates for relationship abuse and domestic violence are there during office hours.

The Counseling Center’s tables had stress relieving activities. One was making mandalas, which is a therapy technique, on blank CDs. Mandalas are also used as a meditation technique, which helps people to find inner peace and concentration. They also tend to symbolize wanting to be complete or whole, which is why they are typically drawn in a circle. The other table hosted by the Counseling Center had Play-Doh. This was offered for students to play with and reduce stress at the moment so that they could enjoy life and feel like children without a care in the world for a few minutes.

Overall, the Mental Health Fair was a huge success as students were able to learn about pertinent topics and take home the ever desirable free items.

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