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Wellbeing Week launches

By Alex Tedesco     9/19/12 7:00pm

A new project to benefit student well-being, particularly mental health, will be instituted by the Wellness Center, Active Minds and the Rice Health Advisors starting on Sept. 21. "The Wellbeing Project" is a student-led initiative to open up a conversation about well-being on campus by reintroducing the current programs focused on general wellbeing and mental health as well as starting a new set of programs, according to RHA campus-wide coordinator Chris Keller. 

The project will target conflict and stress issues relevant to Rice students, Director of Student Development and Retention Kate Noonan said. 

"[It] will provide interactive and educational workshops to address a variety of wellness topics, including academic stress, addressing interpersonal conflicts [and] managing your obligations, among other topics," Noonan said. 

To kick-start the Wellbeing Project, the Wellness Center is launching Wellbeing Week from Sept. 21 through Sept. 28, which will showcase various Wellbeing Project programs, as well as the people on campus associated with bettering students' health. Through the kickoff week, students will learn to fully utilize the health resources provided to them, Keller, a Jones College senior, said. 

Wellbeing Week will include activities that help students deal with stress, analyze lifetime goals, and become familiar with wellbeing and mental health resources, Keller said. A collaboration between many campus organizations, the week will host an array of events with a variety of different purposes including trips organized by Rice Outdoor Programs and Education. The Wellness Center will also be hosting various workshops, trainings, and talks centered on student well-being to open up conversation to these topics. On Sept. 25, RHAs of each college will host a study break in locations yet to be determined. All these events lead up to the night of Sept. 27, when Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson will host an open dialogue about happiness, success and well-being. 

"The event will be an informal, relaxed discussion meant to break down the barrier between students and faculty and open up the conversation to well-being," Active Minds president Emily Begnel said. 

In addition to these new special events, there will be returning events such as Nirvana sessions, which are guided imagery and meditation sessions that promote relaxation. 

According to Noonan, after the initial kickoff week, the Wellbeing Project will continue with regular programs throughout the entire year, and it will evolve and adapt to meet the needs of the student body. 

Following talks between the Wellness Center and student leaders, a need to establish a positive outlook on mental health issues became clear, according to the Wellness Center website. The Wellbeing Project was modeled to mirror, in part, the methods previously used to combat campus alcohol issues by hosting talks and programs to inform students, according to Begnel, a Baker College sophomore. 

Active Minds is a mental health awareness club that was asked to collaborate with the Wellness Center for the Wellbeing Project. 

"A lot of times there is a stigma associated with mental health, and a lot of times people don't seek help," Begnel, a Baker College sophomore, said. "Our goal is reduce that stigma, and to let people know it's okay to get help when you need it."

The Wellbeing Project hopes to highlight the resources students have at Rice to deal with the stresses that accompany attending an academically rigorous school, as well as those present in everyday life, according to Keller. Keller said the project is a way to focus and talk more holistically about students' well-being on campus. 

Duncan College sophomore Morgan Sutter said she did not have previous knowledge of mental health resources. 

"Midterms are very stressful, and besides study breaks I had no idea Rice provided other resources to manage stress," Sutter said. "I'm excited to see what Wellbeing week has to offer."

A full list of the Wellbeing Week events can be found on the Wellness Center website, rcc.rice.edu. 

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