Equipped with an inner-child play area, therapy dogs and much more, the Student Counseling Center aims to educate students on mental health with the VolAware Street Fair today from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Pedestrian Walkway.
Connie Briscoe, chair of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, invited students to head out to Pedestrian Walkway today to educate on how to remain mentally healthy during stressful times. With midterms fast approaching, this is definitely a time for the UT population to work on stress management.
"It's an opportunity for students to learn strategies to help them relax," Briscoe said. "This time of year is stressful...come take a break."
With representatives from both on- and off-campus organizations, the student body can learn through numerous interactive activities that are all offered free of charge. Activities to help educate and de-stress include an inner-child play area, free chair massages and even therapy dogs.
"(The street fair) is open to all students and faculty. We all struggle with stress," Briscoe said.
Another major goal of the VolAware Street Fair is to educate students on the issue of suicide and how to prevent it. The event hopes to remove the stigma attached to seeking help with mental health.
"Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students," said Briscoe.
Tiffany Woodard, an undecided freshman, feels that a negative connotation surrounds the idea of asking for mental help.
"The media puts a negative spin on something that should be socially acceptable," Woodard said.
Briscoe agreed, pointing to the stigma's large presence at universities.
"It's especially prevalent on college campuses. There's so much pressure to be independent," she said.
There will be numerous training sessions resulting in Q.P.R. (Question, Persuade and Refer) Certification. These are the steps that you are coached on to help save lives. The sessions last about an hour each and help participants learn to recognize the warning signs of suicidal tendencies. All who are interested are encouraged to stop by and participate in one of the sessions.
Along with the many free resources provided to those who attend, an abundance of prizes will also be given away. Among the prizes to be given away are a basketball autographed by the Lady Vols, a $500 book voucher and many uniquely themed gift baskets.
The street fair, which is now in its sixth year, has gone from an initial attendance of 300 people to a record-breaking 1,500 last year. The Student Counseling Center hopes to raise the number even further with this year's 48 vendors on hand. With such a variety of activities and events happening simultaneously, everybody is bound to find something they enjoy. Whether it is to get Q.P.R. certification or to stop by and get a free manicure, this event offers help to the students at UT to decrease stress and help fight the stigma attached to finding help for mental health.