Lehigh’s Pride Center has started “Mental Health Mondays," which designates the first Monday of each month to promote positive mental health. The Pride Center aims to reduce stigma around mental health and encourage students to love themselves and others by collaborating with the Center for Gender Equity. (Adele Hancock/ B&W Staff)

Mental Health Mondays find intersection of self-love and mental health

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On the first Monday of each month, the Pride Center and the Center for Gender Equity collaborate to host “Mental Health Mondays” for the campus community.

Part of a semester-long series, each Mental Health Monday is centered around a different topic or activity. The event on Monday, Nov. 18, will aim to explore self-love in connection to mental health.

September’s event brought stress-relieving therapy dogs to campus during the first round of common hour exams, while October’s event centered around yoga. This month, students, faculty and staff are invited to “reshape” their self-image using polymer clay.

Dominique Ocampo, ‘22, an intern at the Pride Center, is leading the momentum for Mental Health Mondays this semester.

Ocampo conducted extensive research over the past several months about how mental health intersects with the queer community, especially at Lehigh.

“The Pride Center plans the events with students’ needs in mind,” Ocampo said. “We think about what stresses are happening in students’ lives and what might be helpful for them to reduce the stress.”

The event will be a partnership between the Pride Center and Be Your Own, through the Center for Gender Equity. 

Be Your Own is a student-run program created to provide opportunities for students to join creative spaces and express themselves through art. Every year, the program establishes a theme and hosts events with the overarching idea in mind.

This year’s theme is love, and what it means for each person on campus.

“We’re focusing on the universal topic of love, whether it’s love for others, a favorite thing, or our own identities,” said Shaelyn Heft, ‘20, a Be Your Own coordinator.

Be Your Own invites the campus community to explore what love is and what it means to them, and how it can be felt through expression of art, Heft said.

Haley Yahraus, ‘21, is another coordinator for Be Your Own.

“We hope anyone that comes into the creation space, whether they know about art or not, can take away the idea that art can be used to explore and learn about yourself,” Yahraus said.

Pride Center coordinator Mary Ellen (Mel) Kitchen said “reshaping” self-image with polymer clay is a way to expand energy and reshape stresses, too.

Kitchen said the Pride Center understands the stress students are under, whether it concerns academics or life in general.

“We want to bring awareness to the fact that mental health isn’t something people should be embarrassed about,” Kitchen said. “We want people to feel like they can reach out and communicate about it.”

Ocampo said Lehigh students push themselves to work hard. 

“Through this event, we want to encourage students to think more about themselves because the better you treat yourself, the better you can treat the community,” Ocampo said.

 

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