Well-Fest raises awareness for mental health

By SARAH Y. KIM | November 2, 2017


COURTESY OF SARAH Y. KIM Mental health and wellness groups set up tables and booths in Levering Courtyard last Friday.

Well-Fest, an annual event that aims to spread awareness about mental health resources at Hopkins, took place for the second year at Levering Courtyard on Friday, Oct. 27.

The Student Government Association (SGA) hosted the event, which brought together volunteers and staff from different mental health groups including Active Minds, A Place to Talk (APTT), the Center for Health Education Wellness (CHEW) and the Counseling Center.

The different groups set up booths, distributed pamphlets and had free giveaways which included candy, fruit and condoms. One booth had a board on which students posted recommendations on how to improve mental health resources.

Last year, Well-Fest was held in early September, giving organizers only two weeks to put the event together and a few days to advertise. This year, SGA began organizing the event a month and a half in advance and advertised it for two weeks via social media.

Executive Vice President of the SGA AJ Tsang said that the timing of the event this year was appropriate for students dealing with stress.

“It’s midterm season. We’re nearing finals,” he said. “It’s a good time to boost student morale.”

The event was also held on the Freshman Quad last year. Tsang said that SGA relocated the event to make it more widely accessible.

In addition to learning about what mental health resources are available, students had the opportunity to learn how to get involved with mental health groups.

Xuanjia Fan, a sophomore who volunteered at the event for CHEW, said that students currently lack awareness about these resources.

While he believes that Levering Courtyard was a suitable location, Fan believes advertising could have been more rigorous.

“There’s not enough advertisement of these clubs and these resource that students have,” Fan said.

The Student Health and Wellness Center (HelWell) also had a booth. According to Alexandra Morrel, a certified family nurse practitioner who works at HelWell, HelWell was not invited last year.

“When people are thinking about mental health we’re not on top of the list,” she said. “People also confuse us with CHEW.”

She clarified that while CHEW is focused on health education, HelWell is a clinic consisting of nurse practitioners, nurses and physicians.

“We’re passionate about our students’ health, and physical and mental health are so closely combined,” Morrel said. “If you have some mental health issues it can affect your physical health as well.”

Morrel believes that many students at Hopkins overexert themselves at the expense of their mental and physical well-being. She said that Well-Fest is important for promoting self-care.

“You’re going to be a better student if you are taking care of yourself in all manners: enjoying times with friends, sleeping, eating, exercise,” Morrel said.

Freshmen Taisse Yang and Noor Nassar were not aware of Well-Fest until they happened to pass by Levering Courtyard. They appreciated the event for helping familiarize them with resources on campus.

“A lot of people deal with mental health issues, and they’re more common than people think,” Yang said.

Nassar agreed, adding that stigma around mental health problems makes students reluctant to seek out these resources.

“We don’t want to take the time out... to relax and de-stress, because we think that’s taking away from time we can use to do something more productive,” she said. “In reality it’s the same level of importance.”

Tsang hopes that similar awareness events will be held throughout the year.

“Every semester, every year, students can not only learn about but also get more involved with mental health resources on campus,” he said.

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