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Russ College students connect, reflect, de-stress during first-ever Wellness Week

Marissa McDaid and Colleen Carow | Feb 11, 2019
Wellness Week 2

Russ College students connect, reflect, de-stress during first-ever Wellness Week

Marissa McDaid and Colleen Carow | Feb 11, 2019

It had already been a challenging week for chemical engineering senior Megan Cika by Wednesday, when she stopped by a special event booth in the Academic & Research Center -- to make a simple stress ball and learn about wellness.

“It's no joke that engineering is hard,” Cika said. “It's rigorous; it's mentally consuming.”

The booth was part of the Russ College’s first-ever Wellness Week. Last week, staff and student volunteers collaborated to host discussions and activities about mental health and wellness. Wellness Week workers handed out information on mental health resources, provided wellness tips, facilitated activities, and gave students the chance to fill out a survey to test their knowledge and win $20 in Bobcat Cash. Daily digital signs provided tips and prompts for students to evaluate their habits and find resources for help.

Biomedical engineering graduate student Caitlin Behme helped Cika make her stress ball out out of a balloon and flour. For Behme, the event was a step in the right direction for the Russ College.

“The more that mental health and wellness are talked about, and the more you can make an open environment to discuss things – that will definitely reduce the stigma,” Behme said.

Director of Student Success and Retention Julie Chiki, who helped develop the event, said students were curious, and also encouraged that the Russ College is taking steps to address mental health and wellness. Advancing wellness won’t just help students with their grades, Chiki said, but will also help prepare them for the future.

“We know that success depends on a lot of factors – it’s not just how hard you study and the grades that you earn,” Chiki said. “It’s easy to overlook self-care, like getting enough sleep and physical activity, when the homework piles up,” added Chiki, who said student feedback will help the college prepare for future events and outreach.

Computer engineering senior Dylan Denner volunteered at the booth as a way to extend the support he has received to others.

“I think that sometimes as engineers, we have a tendency to focus on solving other people's problems and often neglect our own. Wellness Week reminds students that we all face challenges in our personal lives, and that it’s okay to take the time to take care of yourself,” Denner said. “While the Russ College stands for excellence in engineering and technology, Wellness Week shows that the college also believes wellbeing is just as important as your studies.”