The Chill Out: Mental Health Wellness Fair will take place at the St. Peter Community Center on Thursday, Nov. 8 from 6-8pm, providing an opportunity for members of both the Gustavus and St. Peter communities to learn about mental health issues, stress-reduction and general wellness awareness.
Poster artwork: Dillon Hall, Jade Johnson, Sandy Xiong and Kim Clayton
“We are trying to get different programs involved with the event. If you come, there will be dieticians, a masseuse, yoga, stress-relieving activities such as meditation, organic food, information on eating well, plus information on mental health from doctors and clinicians,” Junior Psychological Science major Grace Kjellgren, one of the students involved with planning the fair, said.
The Wellness Fair will include anything from how to deal with mental health issues such as depression, alcoholism, autism and other issues, to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and suicide prevention. It will address the whole age spectrum from young children to adults.
“The main theme is promoting mental health and reducing mental health stigma. That really needs to be done and that’s why we’re doing it,” Associate Professor of Psychological Science Marie Walker said. “There really was nothing specific in the St. Peter community like this.”
The Chill Out and Wellness Fair has been available on campus for the Gustavus community before, “but we want to move it to include St. Peter and bring something that Gustavus does to the whole community,” Walker said.
As part of a project in an Abnormal Psychology class at Gustavus, students asked themselves: “How can we raise awareness of mental health issues in the community, reduce stigma surrounding mental illness and promote preventive mental health practices in Saint Peter and surrounding communities?”
Using these questions, they came up with the Mental Health Wellness Fair, which has been in the planning stage since last year’s spring class, who got the ball rolling by researching if there was a need for it, going out to the community and creating lists of who to talk with.
This semester’s class is based on what last semester’s class worked on; students have been contacting mental health agencies to see if they will participate, what kind of commitment they can make and what kind of services they can present and talk about, as well as organizing everything relating to the event.
“The goal for students in the classroom is that they learn about applying their knowledge of mental health outside of classroom while reducing stigma and raising awareness in the community,” Walker said.
“They are interacting with the community and getting to know it better. They get the chance to do something that might make a difference and hopefully start something in the community that will continue, something that I can continue with my students in future classes or that the community can take up.”
“We are hoping the wide range of information and resources given will bring in a large crowd,” Kjellgren said. Everyone from both the Gustavus and St. Peter community is welcome to attend. If anyone has ideas for the event or wants to participate, contact Marie Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Grace Kjellgren (email@example.com). This event is sponsored by the St. Peter Community Center.
[Grace Kjellgren '14 is a psychological science major for pre-occupational therapy and hopes to specialize in autism. She is the constitution chair for the Delta Phi Omega sorority and growth chair for Colleges Against Cancer.]
Left to right: Grace Kjellgren, Ian Stitt, Sam Fransen, Jane Timmerman (Director of the St. Peter Community Center), (not shown, Jennifer Hendricks), Lauren TeBrake & Sam Olson-Anstett.