Mental Health Awareness Month Events Around Campus Create Space for Students Destress

A collection of events took place behind the library from May 3 through to May 17 during Protected Time on Fridays.

The advent of May signals the start of Mental Health Awareness Month, with wellness-focused clubs around campus hosting events each Friday to provide students with opportunities to destress as the Spring Term comes to a close. 


Dr. Amy Patel, Dean of Health and Wellness and Chief Medical Officer at the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center, explained the purpose behind the Sykes-supported Student Wellness Collaborative. She emphasized the Collaborative as an excellent way to get clubs to work together on events, as well as receive any extra funding needed to host them.


“[The Collaborative] is really open to anybody who feels like their club has a wellness focus… It’s also a way to make sure that two clubs aren’t competing for a similar event too… and then we also have a little bit of additional funding that comes through the Sykes Wellness Center for events that are through the Student Wellness Collaborative. So it also broadens the opportunity for clubs to do some things that they would have to fundraise for in order to do otherwise,” said Patel.


Sage Preston ’25, Co-Head of Self Care Bears, Andover’s body positivity and self-love club, highlighted one event that the club had hosted earlier this month. She noted that the event was a great way for students to collect small tools that would help decrease stress in classes and throughout their day.


“[The event] involved a bunch of treats from Sykes, and we were inviting people to put together goodie bags to destress and just have snacks and fun things to use throughout classes and stuff like that. So, some of the things we had were Play-Doh, we had some other fidget toys, we had chocolate, tissues, and hand sanitizer… lots of little random things that are useful throughout your day,” said Preston.


Dorothy Swanson-Blaker ’24, a member of the Student Wellness Collaborative, spoke on how the events stemmed from ideas that she and other members of the collaborative brainstormed and developed. She mentioned how her original idea, hosting mental health workshops for each grade, changed into this month’s project.


“Over Fall and Winter term, Matt [Wasilewski ’24] and I were talking with Mr. Corbet about doing monthly workshops with Sykes… That didn’t end up taking off because student wellness mini-meetings were very sporadic, and it was hard to know how else to get our ideas across, but then for the Spring term we started meeting more often, and we restructured the organizations of things… That idea came up right around the time that Mental Health Awareness Month planning began, so somehow that morphed into this idea of weekly events, not quite workshops, but also just things focused on wellness and health,” said Swanson-Blaker.


Ozochi Onunaku ’25 spoke to the importance of having Mental Health Awareness Month events during the final month of the academic year, a period that is usually filled with assessments and stress. He expressed his appreciation toward each of the Sykes events and the opportunities they created for enjoyable experiences and socialization among students.


“Especially at such a rigorous environment as Andover itself, students do need time in order to take a step back, enjoy socialization with friends, be able to grab a bite of very comforting food, before they continue their path at Andover… I love the way that these events are placed around such friendly, welcoming, and inviting things such as being able to have a munch, talk with people, eat with people, or be able to create your own goodie bag. Just being able to interact with the material that Sykes provides, as well as other people, is very helpful for the entire community,” said Onunaku.