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De-stressing activities to be offered at Mental Health Week to help students handle pressure

MENTAL HEALTH WEEK

Throughout the week, USAC will be holding events to help students de-stress and deal with issues such as depression and suicide prevention.

Monday:
– Free hugs giveaway on Bruin Walk, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Tuesday:
LGBT Suicide Prevention and QPR Certification Sign-ups at Kerckhoff Patio, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
– "Love My Life" card-decorating table on Bruin Walk, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
– Stress workshop at Counseling and Psychological Services first floor conference room, 6-8 p.m.

Wednesday:
– Yoga Under the Stars at Sunset Recreation lower picnic area, 6-7:30 p.m.
– Depression workshop at CAPS first floor conference room 7-8 p.m.

Thursday:
QPR Certification at Ackerman second floor lounge 5-7 p.m.
– Play Your Stress Away with Student Health Advocates at Sproul lecture hall, 8-10 p.m.

Friday:
– We Love YOUcla at Bruin Plaza, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Listening booths with students waiting to talk to people about their problems
"Hug Bar" where students can order different embraces such as a hamburger hug
– Flashmob dance to "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey at around 12:45 p.m.

SOURCE: Linda Phi, Undergraduate Students Association Council student welfare commissioner
Compiled by Cody Geib, Bruin contributor.

By Cody Geib

Feb. 28, 2011 2:05 a.m.

UCLA’s first Mental Health Week starts today, offering students a chance to de-stress, do yoga, learn about suicide prevention and even snag a free hug as finals approach.

Undergraduate student government officers Emily Resnick and Linda Phi teamed up to plan the week’s events. Each day will focus on a specific aspect of mental health to help students cope with their various pressures, said Phi, USAC student welfare commissioner.

The week is designed to remove the stigma surrounding issues like depression and stress, said Resnick, USAC general representative.

“These are OK things,” Resnick said. “I think it’s just important … to stimulate discussion and help people realize that it’s not so bad.”

Active Minds, the mental health branch of Phi’s office, organized a stress workshop for Tuesday and a depression workshop for Wednesday.

“Preventing suicide is one of the biggest missions of Active Minds,” said Toshi Miyatsu, a fourth-year psychology student and director of Active Minds. “So the depression workshop has an emphasis on the connection to suicide and how to identify at-risk individuals.”

In a more explicit effort to prevent suicide, the Active Minds and Gender Health Committee within the Student Welfare Commission organized a training class for Thursday. Students taking the Question, Persuade, Refer Certification class will learn how to question a person about suicide, persuade them to seek help and refer them for help.

The class, led by Robert Corb from Counseling and Psychological Services, will prepare students to detect symptoms of mental health problems in others and reduce the chances of their committing suicide.

“You will practice asking the question, “˜Are you thinking about killing yourself?'” Miyatsu said. “This makes us realize how serious and real the issue is, and you also notice how difficult it may be to ask that question in a real-life situation.”

The week will finish with the “We Love YOUcla” event on Friday in Bruin Plaza. The event will remind students why they love UCLA in spite of finals, said Madison Murphy, director of the Health and Wellness Committee, which helped plan the event.

As a part of the event on Friday, students at two separate listening booths will be waiting for people who want to pull up chairs and talk about their problems.

The booths will have a sign reading, “Listening booth. The doctor is in,” alluding to Lucy’s psychiatric booth in the “Charlie Brown” comics. But unlike her services, the listening booths are free.

“Some people may take (the booths) as a joke,” Resnick said. “But for the one person who wants to talk to them, it’s perfect.”

After the week is over, Miyatsu said he hopes that students will have a greater concern for the mental health of other people because as students become more busy, they often care less for others.

“If (students) are stressed or dealing with some psychological conditions, I want them to seek help and feel that it’s OK,” Miyatsu said. “I just want them to be more comfortable.”

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