Event planners Anna Vu, Grace Moebes and Gianna Carter have been planning the Mental Health Awareness Festival since September.
The event will take place from Nov. 12–15 via Zoom, and they have gone through many steps to make the festival come together.
The organizations taking part in this festival include the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness Services, A Sound Mind, AU Players, Student Counseling and Psychological Services, CHAARG and the Office of Sustainability. The festival is being supported by the University’s Theater Department.
According to Anna Vu, junior in theater management, the theater class was tasked with coming up with an event for the fall semester.
“We brainstormed through many different events but ended up on the Mental Health Awareness Festival, because due to the given circumstances with COVID, it became clear that we all felt strongly about promoting mental health in a creative and sustainable way,” Vu said.
Vu, Moebes and Carter knew they wanted to make the festival both creative and sustainable. They wanted to “incorporate the idea of self-expression” because they believe in the importance of having an outlet where one can be themselves.
As explained by Carter, senior in theater management, some of the events taking place at the festival are origami, yoga, beading workshops, cooking tutorials, creating your own stress balls, a workout with CHAARG and potting your own plant.
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The activities will occur in different breakout rooms “in hopes of showing students how they can cope with attacks to their mental health in creative ways,” Carter said.
She hopes this will help make the academic stress feel more manageable.
“We want to let students know that mental health doesn’t have to be something you’re scared to talk about and that it is something most people deal with,” Carter said.
Carter said the experience of coordinating this event alongside Vu and Moebes has taught her a lot.
“I’ve learned that there are many craft activities that have been proven to assist with coping with everyday stressors and tips on how to create sustainable events,” Carter said.
While maintaining an engaging environment via Zoom proves to be difficult, Carter has “learned and explored new ways” to keep people interested.
Moebes, senior in theater management, said she hopes the festival can help break down stigmas.
“For me, this festival is a way to break the taboo on mental health and start an open-minded conversation,” Moebes said.
Moebes also said she has enjoyed using her creative side in the planning process of the festival.
“I feel art can be really helpful in opening up and expressing your emotions,” Moebes said.
Vu said because of the virus, people had to make many changes in their lives. People are working from home, limiting contact with each other, not getting to see loved ones and many students cannot go into classes.
“Anxiety is heightened related to your own health status,” Vu said. “[Along with] boredom and feeling unmotivated because you may not be able to work or engage in regular day-to-day activities.”
Vu said the purpose of this festival is both to discuss mental health and provide healthy coping outlets.
“College students are struggling now more than ever due to the many overwhelming events taking place in the world today,” she said. “We hope our festival allows for students to start an open-minded conversation about the importance of mental health and learn creative ways to improve their own.”
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