| 03.20.2018

Finding a happy place – Fair aims to educate students about college stress


Colorful footprints emblazoned with inspirational phrases and helpful hints led the way to various Mental Health and Wellness Fair activities Tuesday afternoon. Starting in the sunshine of the Idaho Commons Plaza, stations weaved through the commons.

Stations included a photo booth, stress ball creation station and a hydration station.

“What we”re doing today is finding healthy outlets,” said Michelle Fischer, a junior psychology student and suicide prevention center peer educator.

Fischer was manning a dance video game station in the food court. She said she became involved with the Campus Suicide Prevention Center after seeing its employees around campus last year.

“Suicide is something that hits kind of close to home for me,” Fischer said, referencing the deaths of multiple childhood friends. “We try to educate students about de-stigmatizing mental illness.”

Students also had the opportunity to participate in a mental health screenings or biofeedback testing.

“The biofeedback is a way for people to manage their own stress and anxiety,” said Counseling and Testing Center psychologist Chuck Morrison.

Morrison said students are given cards to test their own stress levels, which also allows for gauging if stress-management tactics are working.

If students are stressed, Morrison said they have a choice on how to handle it.

“They have to kind of decide if they want to work on something for a long time or a short time,” Morrison said.

His advice for students that have a class that scares them or causes increased anxiety is to practice relaxation techniques before studying, intermittently throughout and before the test.

“You don”t want to be asleep, but you don”t want to be so anxious you freak out,” Morrison said.

Steve Saladin, Counseling and Testing Center psychologist, said students who stopped by the mental health screening station were mostly curious about what was happening.

“Frankly, most of the students who stop by are just doing it to see what it”s about and don”t have a major issue,” Saladin said.

However, the screenings are a way for students to see if the stress and emotions they are feeling are in a fairly normal range or something to be concerned about.

“There are services available if you”re feeling down, stressed or out of sorts,” Saladin said.

Good habits such as exercise and being mindful of mental health are important to develop, said Mykaela Robinson, Vandal Health Education intern.

“This is a time in a life we”ll build resources and habits for the rest of our life,” she said.   “I”m so passionate about both the mind and the body – both are so connected.”

For students heading into finals, Saladin said to follow common test-taking advice.

“Diet and sleep are two of the big things students often neglect going into finals.,” Saladin said.

Resources such as mental health screening and biofeedback testing are available through the Counseling and Testing Center throughout the year, Morrison said. He said students could request the biofeedback testing without going through extensive counseling.

“It”s really up to you for what you want to work on,” Morrison said.

Saladin said it”s important to relax as much as possible with the stress of finals approaching.

“This is a stressful time of the year, but it will soon be over,” Saladin said with a chuckle.

Katelyn Hilsenbeck  can be reached at  arg-news@uidaho.edu  or on Twitter @Katelyn_mh

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