About 130 Iowa State community members took a break throughout their busy day to build customized mental health kits Wednesday.
The Oak Room of the Memorial Union had an assembly line of goodies such as snacks, plush animals, Play-Doh and more from noon to 4 p.m. for the “Build Your Own Mental Health Kits” event.
The event was organized and hosted by Student Union Board’s Multicultural Awareness Co-Directors: Reed Blanchard, junior in world languages and cultures, and Diego Bonilla, sophomore in event management.
At about 2 p.m., the event had around 80 people stop by for the event. Bonilla said people had shown up right at noon as the event began.
“I think it’s just important that people bring awareness to mental health, especially on a college campus,” Bonilla said. “It’s very important, so I think it’s kind of cool that we’re able to do something like this for students primarily.”
The mental health event allowed those attending to put together a personalized mental health kit with snacks, fidget toys and more.
Regine Peters, senior in statistics, attended the “Build Your Own Mental Health Kits” event with her friend Jamie Campbell, senior in English, because Peters receives emails from Student Union Board and saw it on a friend’s Snapchat.
“It’s been an overwhelming semester,” Peters said. “I’ve been finding myself looking for spaces like these because I’m realizing that I need that break, and this just makes it much easier to kind of check in on yourself and do what you need to do."
Peters and Campbell each put together a custom mental health kit with items like plush toys, Kleenexes and motivational quotes on cards. Markers and colored pencils were provided at the event to decorate the small white boxes used for the kits.
“I’ve just been feeling very burnt out this semester,” Campbell said. “I student teach in the spring, and it just feels like it’s coming up so soon, but also I’m just not prepared, and so it’s kind of just nice to take some time for yourself and be like, ‘Okay, you’re on the right track; you’re going to get there.’”
The mental health kits event was a chance for people to de-stress with activities and distract themselves from the worries of classes, homework, work and other worries in their lives before being able to relax during the fall break.
“I was kind of hesitant to come at first just because I wasn’t sure what it was,” Campbell said. “But then I was just telling [Peters] a few minutes ago, ‘Thank you for bringing me, this is actually really fun,’ — a little reset, a little just nice relaxing space, got some good music playing.”
Peters is also the treasurer for Iowa State’s Womxn of Colour Network student organization, which she said had a “reset” meeting similar to the “Build Your Own Mental Health Kits” event.
“[It was] just kind of stopping in and sitting there, taking care of yourself and breathing, mostly,” Peters said. “I like to pause, and I like when other people have the opportunity to also pause as well. [...] Also, I know the [Liberal Arts and Sciences] International [Student] Network, they also sponsored something similar where they also invited the Tap Room to come in.”
The Tap Room, created by Iowa State’s Student Wellness, is a relaxation program that focuses on stress-reducing practices. The Tap Room provided the “Build Your Own Mental Health Kits” event with various relaxing activities and a survey about stress for attendees to fill out before and after they participated in the event.
Jillian Kurovski, senior in animal ecology, and Emily Samman, sophomore in kinesiology and health, were at the Tap Room booth at the event.
“Tap Room is [...] a setup of activities that are meant to help people de-stress, refocus, be more mindful,” Kurovski said. “It’s an array of activities, so some of the activities include coloring, there’s aromatherapy. We have yoga mats to lay on, we have some biofeedback devices that people can use [...].”
Any Iowa State affiliated organization can request the Student Wellness Tap Room for a future event or planned activity. To request the Tap Room, visit the Student Wellness website.
Bonilla said as an event management major, it is cool to get real-world experience with organizing and planning events like this one.
“We definitely need that spontaneous break because it helps,” Peters said. “At the same time, sometimes you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t think you need it, so you don’t take advantage of it. So I would like to see more during the semester, but I’m grateful for this [event] as well.”