Student Government (SG) organized a new event focusing on mental health last Friday, which was College Break Day.
Life of the Nourished Mind, which lasted from 9:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m., brought together 80 students at Ida Noyes Hall to participate in workshops and discussions pertaining to mental health.
The program was launched because, through discussions it has been having with students, SG’s Executive Slate noticed a need for discussion about mental health on campus.
“College Break Day used to colloquially be known as ‘Suicide Prevention Day,’” said fourth-year and SG President Calvin Cottrell. “We wanted to flip that on its head, by re-envisioning the purpose of the day.”
The day began with a talk by John Moe, who hosts a podcast entitled The Hilarious World of Depression. Moe’s address was followed by talks on sexual misconduct, self-care, mental health for people of color, and grief, given by representatives of Student Counseling Services and UChicago Hospitals, as well as various other speakers.
Workshops included “Improv for Anxiety,” led by a comedian from The Second City, as well as one on mindfulness initiatives.
Cottrell mentioned that before the event was created, it had been difficult for administrators and student groups to reach large numbers of students with mental health programming. Life of the Nourished Mind was conceived as a way to bring together a large group of students to tackle the issue of mental health at a single, major annual event. Cottrell described the inaugural Life of the Nourished Mind as “a strong kickoff to a long-term discussion of mental health and wellness on campus.”
SG plans to host Life of the Nourished Mind again next year, but in a different form, Cottrell said. It hopes to take into consideration attendees’ recommendations and create a longer event on mental health issues, potentially spanning a whole week. Cottrell said that SG expects greater turnout in the future and for Life of the Nourished Mind to become a tradition.
Cottrell ended by talking about mental health at UChicago. “Mental health and our campus culture of overwork is one of the systemic issues holding our student body back,” he said. “The response was strong because students realize that and called for programming like this.”