College Care Week helped students focus on mental health ahead of finals: News at IU: Indiana University


Indiana University Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences did something different the week before final exams this year. The week, once dubbed “Dead Week” due to classes being canceled in preparation for the finals, has been renamed. From the ashes of Dead Week came College Care Week, created to give students the opportunity to focus on their mental health during a time of deadlines and increased pressure.

“Finals can make or break people, especially if you’re an upper-class student and you only have a limited number of classes where you can prove yourself until you’re ready to get that degree,” said Shay George, a freshman majoring in psychology. “I think for any student during finals week, or the week before finals week, that anxiety is really high.”

Self-care can fall by the wayside during times of stress, and the College understands the importance of supporting students both mentally and physically. Daily offerings included a grab-and-go breakfast and snack bar served at the Walter Center for Career Achievement at Ernie Pyle Hall, which provided bagels, donuts, fresh fruit, coffee and tea. Massage chairs were available each day and private rooms were set aside for quiet study. There was also a meditation room reserved for students observing Ramadan.

More than 3,000 students participated in College Care Week, which featured an eclectic mix of events on the Bloomington campus. The activities represented some of the unique study topics that students can explore through the College of Arts and Sciences.

Two popular activities during the week included “Media School Play Day” and “Pet-a-Pup Day”. The students had the opportunity to play X-Box games together on the giant screens in the atrium of media school. The following day, more than 1,000 students visited dogs at Ernie Pyle Hall. College faculty and staff volunteered to bring their pets, including 30 dogs and two cats, for students to pet and play with as a form of therapy.

“Having to see the dogs definitely relieved the stress,” said Cora Stillwell, a first-year psychology student. “My friends and I all felt much better afterwards. They were so nice and cheerful, and overall it was a great experience.”

College instructors also donated their time to lead fun and engaging activities throughout College Care Week.

A “Brain Chill” activity organized by the Neuroscience Club took place in the atrium of the Psychological and Brain Sciences Pavilion. Using electroencephalography — headsets with scalp sensors and equipment that detects electrical activity — the students’ brainwaves were translated into a color-changing neurofeedback display. Ben Ramsden, neuroscience club faculty advisor and coordinator of undergraduate neuroscience teaching labs at Department of Psychological and Brain Sciencesexplained the science behind “Brain Chill”.

“Blue colors are thought to be more correlated with ‘cold’ and ‘focus’ EEG activity patterns,” Ramsden said. “Once they’ve practiced getting the right amount of ‘blue’, they then shift their attention back to a toy car track and use the same chilled, focused brain state to speed up and slow down race cars simply by using their brain waves Our Neuroscience Club thought this would be a great activity for College Care Week, as it gets us all thinking about fun things instead of finals, while trying to “chill out” at the same time. »

James Clark, First Year Labs Coordinator of the Department of Chemistry, presented a magic show for the students. Some of the tricks Clark demonstrated included using liquid nitrogen to make smoke and bubbles, make water disappear, turn the light green, and play with hydrogen balloons. He explained the science behind each magical experience.

“There will be fires, there will be explosions, and there will be bad science jokes,” Clark said. “It’s laid back and fun, so students can relax.”

Miriam Northcutt Bohmert, Assistant Professor at Department of Criminal Justice and faculty affiliated with Gender Studies Department, hosted a letter-writing activity where local elementary students wrote letters to undergraduate students, offering words of encouragement and advice. Students received letters and enjoyed Oreos and Uno together during the session.

“Elementary students wrote advice, like ‘Do your best and forget the rest’ or ‘I know you can do it,'” Bohmert said. “Students were also encouraged to write letters to elementary school students – future Hoosiers – and tell them about their favorite parts of college life.”

Pravina Shukla, head teacher at Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, teaches the popular undergraduate course “World Arts and Culture”. Shukla has planned a relaxing coloring and painting activity.

The session included a richly illustrated discussion exploring the cultural and religious significance of traditional art. Shukla’s activity has drawn on painted plates from Turkey, Native American Acoma Pueblo pottery from New Mexico, and contemporary paintings by Nigerian artist Prince Twins Seven-Seven.

“Ceramic plates painted with beautiful floral designs have a very deep religious meaning,” Shukla said. “In Islam, flowers represent the human soul and the harmony of humans living together. Once you go deep into the culture, you understand the cultural, religious and spiritual significance of the pattern and the beautiful plates you see .”

Students who participated in the session were able to take home art materials and coloring pages illustrating the different designs.

“Students can relax just talking about art, beauty and expressing identity through patterns,” Shukla said. “While you’re taking a break from studying, you can just color in and remember that things can be both beautiful and very meaningful once we understand them in context.”


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