The University of Maryland's Department of Resident Life hosted "Terps Take Care," an interactive mental health fair focusing on emotional well-being, on Tuesday in the Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center.
About 20 campus organizations, including Terps for Disability Justice and Scholars Promoting and Revitalizing Care, were represented at the event and promoted information about the services they offer and activities for personal self-care.
Members from the Memorial Chapel and church groups, as well as employees from Bikram Yoga studio and Massage Envy, attended the event. Tables also showed community-based resources for physical health, such as exercising and meditation.
The main goal of the event was to raise awareness about mental health resources available on and off the campus, as well as various self-care options, said Leslie Krafft, who works with Resident Life on student mental health issues. The event strived to encourage people to discuss mental health, Krafft said.
"[ResLife] will keep trying to find creative ways to provide people with a variety of ways for people to manage their mental health," Krafft said.
A popular activity for students was making their own "Love Yourself Jar," a decorated glass jar filled with personal affirmations, challenges and questions. Staff from Numi Yoga studio showed meditation demos, gave different meditation strategies and allowed students to play a video game that represented mental health.
"Terps Take Care" takes place amid criticisms from students that this university does not provide sufficient resources for students with mental health issues. Signs saying "30 Days Too Late" have been put up around the campus, representing the month-long period some students have had to wait to see a therapist at the University Health Center. Last year, there was a 24 percent increase in the counseling center's intake and emergency appointments, according to its annual report.
Schools across the country are facing this growing problem, Krafft said, adding that it is a hard issue to fix because mental health services will continue to expand as the need grows.
"If we add more counselors, we will just get more students interested in seeking them, and we will probably continue to say that we need more," Krafft said.
Ferddy Gedeon, a sophomore psychology major, said unless students go out and proactively search for services, it is very difficult to receive mental health services at this university, especially if a student "is going through a mental health crisis and doesn't have the energy to look through multiple different websites."
"A lot of people, when they are going through something, are left on their own to decide if they should get help or if they should just deal with it on their own," said Jen Milhiser, a sophomore psychology major who attended the event.
"Terps Take Care is a great attempt to pull our community together and to have safety nets for holistic approaches to address the issues of mental health and wellness across the campus," said Counseling Center Director Sharon Kirkland-Gordon.
Julie Le, a sophomore psychology major, unlike Gedeon, had a positive experience when she went to the health center last semester. The staff was very caring and accommodating during the appointment, but not all students have had the same experiences, Le said.
"Because mental health issues are so prevalent, it's really hard for the university to be accommodating to everyone," she said.
Le said more university funding should be moved to mental health services, and while there has been a lot of construction recently, student health should be prioritized over campus development.
"Students are the ones that are going to come back and change the university and change lives and change the world," Le said. "If we are all having a bunch of health issues that can't be addressed, it's going to be hard for that to happen."