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Harvard’s Student Wellbeing Council launched the first Harvard Wellbeing Week with a series of events focused on student mental health last week.
The events included movie nights, a knitting session, physical wellness and stress-management workshops, and small-group conversations such as one titled, “Introverts in an Extroverted World.”
The weeklong programming stems from recommendations from a 2020 report released by a student mental health task force that Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 assembled in 2019. Student Wellbeing Council Chair Annie E. Kim, a master’s student in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, wrote in an email that she hopes Harvard Wellbeing Week will become an annual program.
“We know that this year’s wellbeing week was a bit of a surprise for most students because we didn’t have much time to plan it,” Kim wrote. “We wanted to do something earlier rather than later.”
Harvard Wellbeing Week aimed to inform students about the University’s existing resources and teach them about the different aspects of mental health listed in Harvard University Health Services’ wellbeing framework: relational, emotional, financial, spiritual, environmental, intellectual, vocational, and physical.
Kim said some students may not be aware of the resources provided by different departments at Harvard.
“It’s hard to filter through some of the information that we’re getting,” Kim said in an interview.
The events were held in collaboration with different school programs and resources to maximize student engagement, according to Kim.
“One thing we innovated was the partnership with CrimZone (which is usually for athletic events) to promote some select wellbeing week events in the app so that students could ‘check-in’ and earn points towards the swag store,” Kim wrote. “It’s also a great way to track student engagement in our programming.”
Kim wrote the Student Wellbeing Council will also send out a survey asking students for feedback regarding the inaugural event. She added that the organization hopes to create formal feedback mechanisms for students who use the University’s other mental health resources, such as Counseling and Mental Health Service and TimelyCare, a new telehealth counseling platform.
Though not every event was been packed with students, Kim said they offered opportunities for students from different schools to connect with each other.
“Attendance probably isn’t always as high as we want,” Kim said. “But I think those who do attend seem very engaged and very thankful for that.”
As the Council continues to plan more University-wide programs, Kim wishes to support the increasing demand for counseling and other mental health services among students.
“These years are a really vulnerable time for us as students. It is particularly worse in high performance environments like ours,” Kim wrote. “We hope that we can address wellbeing as something students can incorporate in their daily lives to help us thrive and build resilience in what seems like increasingly turbulent times before things seem hopeless.”
—Staff writer Andrew Park can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewParkNews.
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