I recently spoke to a loved one who works at a school about upcoming breaks in the semester, and she mentioned that a “Wellness Day” was coming up. I had never heard of such a holiday, and I began bombarding her with questions about what it was. She then explained to me how her school had recently introduced “well-being” days into the official calendar for students as a response to a series of devastating events that had recently occurred. At first, I complained about how lucky she was to have extra days off, but later, I started to think about what a “well-being” day is supposed to be and why it would be needed in the first place.
Mental health has been at the forefront of many people’s minds as of late. Instead of suffering in silence, many people are seeking ways to prioritize their mental well-being in everything they do. As a result, mental health awareness is a prominent feature in several environments, from the workplace to the classroom. Particularly, schools have begun addressing the mental health issues of their students and implementing programs to aid their well-being. UNCG offers a variety of services for students to use when they may be feeling overwhelmed. In addition to offering counseling services to their students, UNCG clubs and initiatives hold programs and events that further highlight the importance of mental health awareness.
Despite all that UNCG does to offer their students help, they do not have official breaks for well-being. So, what does a well-being day look like for schools that have them? From what I gathered from speaking with my loved one, it’s just a break from school. They may get an email or two about different student aid organizations, but other than that, there’s not much to it.
Obviously, class is not the only thing on a student’s mind while in college. There’s the stress of finding friends in a new environment, being on your own for the first time and your overall future after college. Not to mention the financial burden looming over students as they go through their academic careers. Unfortunately, breaks from school do little to quell all that comes with being a student, but they are a step in the right direction. Young people work extremely hard just to get into a university, so it is only fair that the university should try to make their academic careers a little easier.
Now, what could a good Wellness Day look like? Maybe in addition to no class, a couple of events could be held for students. For example, some of the many programs UNCG already has for addressing mental health could be held on this Wellness Day. Schools could facilitate nature walks (as being with nature can be beneficial for one’s mind) or group meditation sessions. These are just a few things that could be done on a Wellness Day. People are already more aware of their mental health, and they want engaging events to help them along their journey.
One thing that everyone can agree on in regard to mental health and mental issues is that it is not a simple fix. It takes the support of oneself and others to start addressing the brain and its
complexities. Outside of individual people, large institutions like universities have the ability to support people in ways a single person cannot. So, Wellness Days may be a building block to a future where students are even more empowered in their mental health.