Considering the Mental Health of Students on Campus
by Brittany Close
A recent article published by the Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that Covid has left students stressed and burned out as they began the fall 2021 semester and that two-thirds of college students nationally report that Covid-19 has affected their mental health (Brown, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/did-covid-break-students-mental-health). In an effort to normalize academic mental-health breaks, the BIOE Relaxation Room was created. In this space students can escape from the everyday stressors of these challenging times, even if it’s just for a 20-minute breather.
To build connections and better support bioengineering students through these especially challenging times, the Department of Bioengineering engaged Student Leaders to help find new ways to accomplish these goals. In doing so, the student leaders collected some poignant details about our students and how they were coping with Covid, remote learning, current events and life in general.
Within each cohort, from first-year undergraduates to PhD candidates, responses were analyzed for trends and the message was abundantly clear: most students are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and isolated. Student Services in Bioengineering at CU Anschutz wanted to find a way to support students through these challenging times, to serve as an anchor for anyone in the community that may need it.
Over the course of several months, student leaders met (and continue to meet) to discuss student needs and brainstorm solutions to student concerns. An astonishing number of students reported struggling with mental health and losing stamina in keeping up with all the demands of their coursework and in their college experience. Like everyone impacted by the global pandemic, students have been overwhelmed by COVID-19, the tension in current events, politics, climate change, and equality. Many students asked for more mental health resources including one student’s request for “more mental health space” and “napping pods”. From these requests, the BIOE Relaxation Room was born!
The BIOE Relaxation Room, whose entry is across from the Cell and Molecular lab in Bioscience 2, includes multiple napping or meditation loungers, a couch and other comfortable seating where students can mentally “check-out”, enjoy a quiet, zero-technology space where they can rest, pray, meditate, do yoga, or just sit. The relaxation room is BYOB (bring your own blanket) and is also a homework-free, technology-free space available to use beginning November 1st.
Student Leaders and the Department of Bioengineering hope this space will help support students in helping them discover ways to manage stress, improve mental health and find time to give their brains a break! Take a break from homework and fluorescent lighting and check-out the newly created Relaxation Room. Also, know that the student leaders are always eager to hear more ideas from you!
*Please note: this space will have occupancy rules per COVID restrictions. These rules will be posted on the door of the Relaxation Room, and we ask that students abide by these policies as part of the University Honor Code.