Stress Less Week: Miami U. uses annual event to help students better cope

OXFORD — As student exams and pressure mount on campus, Miami University officials are gearing up for its annual “Stress Less Week” with a small army of therapy dogs, masseuses, relaxing games and mental health resources.

The yearly event is one of the more visible parts of Miami’s push in recent years to better address the mental health needs of its more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students attending classes on campuses throughout Butler County.

Timing for the week-long, on-campus activities at the main Oxford campus – and at Hamilton and Middletown campuses – is targeted for the period of mid to late spring semester of each school year, which is traditionally one of the most stressful for students, said Miami officials.

Sponsored by Miami’s Suicide Prevention Team, the week features a wide variety of free de-stressing activities at many local campus locations of Butler County’s largest employer.

“Stress less week helps raise awareness on strategies to manage stress and anxiety, with the goal of improving the emotional health of all those in our campus community,” said Jennifer Young, Ph.D., psychologist and associate director for community engagement at the student counseling service.

“Participants will learn how to manage anxiety, recognize signs of emotional distress in friends, and identify ways to help,’’ said Young, who also co-chairs the suicide prevention team.

Stress Less Week starts with a Monday kickoff event with the school’s mental health fund incubator student challenge competition at 5 p.m. in Wilks Theater in Armstrong Student Center. Individual students and student groups will pitch their ideas for funding various mental health-related campus events and projects.

Other activities throughout the week include yoga in the Wellness Studio, a pop-up tea tasting at the International Students and Scholar Services, collage making in the Wellness Studio, a suicide prevention training, and workshops addressing coping skills, mindfulness, and ways to stress less.

Speakers and mental health experts’ public presentations will follow later in the week with the signature day being Thursday when students can enjoy outdoor games, laser tag, and inflatables at the Oxford campus’ Central Quad.

The event moves indoors from 4-6:30 p.m. to the Armstrong Fritz Pavilion for therapy dogs, free massages, snacks, games, crafting, and messages of hope. During the event, students will learn about managing stress, maintaining a healthy mind and active lifestyle, and enhancing community connections.

For a listing of free student events and activities go to Miami’s Stress Less Week website.

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