As the normal February feelings of springtime and romance begin to circle in the air, many students find themselves faced with the most stressful period of the entire year. The pressure that exudes from all areas of life on and around February 14 leaves many students feeling inadequate, alone or simply unappreciated. In response, Maryville College will be lightening up Valentine’s week by hosting the third annual Feeling Blue campaign, a mental wellness event sponsored by the Blount Memorial Behavioral Health Center.
“The overarching purpose of the Feeling Blue campaign is to draw attention to the dangers of depression and suicide on college campuses,” says Vice President and Dean of Students Vandy Kemp.
The event has met with much success in the past, with some students even feeling so blue they decided to paint up for the event in its inaugural year. Kemp said she hopes support for the project only grows in the coming year.
According to Kemp, the dangers brought to light by the campaign are among the most serious problems faced by college students today, and the stress that leads to them comes in a large part from the various relationships in students’ lives and how they deal with those relationships. Appropriately, Kemp, the Res Life staff, the Psi Chi Psychology club and the other sponsors of the event have decided to focus this year’s campaign on these relationships and to tackle them at the time when students suffer from uncertainties about them the most: Valentine’s Day.
“Our relationships with others often define how we feel about ourselves in the world. If our relationships are healthy and mutually beneficial, we are likely to be more satisfied with our lives,” Kemp said.
These relationships breach far beyond the romantic sphere. The most stress can come from the various other relationships in our lives, including those with family, friends and roommates.
Kemp said that she feels “one of the most challenging relationships for college students is the roommate relationship.” The prospect of an entirely new way of living can be quite foreboding, and a sudden, long-term relationship with a new living buddy can be difficult to form.
“Most students have never shared a room, so having a roommate can be difficult,” Kemp said.
While many students have experienced varying degrees of codependence, residence hall living, especially for freshmen, can be a challenging experience.
Kemp and the various organizations involved in the campaign, including the food services and athletics departments, have organized several events throughout the week in order to relieve and realize the various stresses that students may encounter in their daily lives. Kemp said she feels one of the most successful portions of the campaign in the past have been the panels provided by the Blount Memorial Behavioral Health center across campus. These talks will cover questions about expectations, disappointment and needs in relationships, as well as how to celebrate those relationships in your life that are positive. The lectures are a chance for students to leave the daily routine of class and learn ways in which they can promote a healthy lifestyle and reduce stress. Many of these talks will focus on “stress-busters,” techniques that can help students relieve stress. These lectures will go hand in hand with an effort by food services to introduce students to “stress-busting foods.” A whole day will be planned in the cafeteria in order to provide students with foods designed to release endorphins and release the stress of daily life.
One of the most exciting facets of this year’s campaign is the Secret Note Project that is being sponsored and organized by the Psi Chi Psychology club. Students involved in the project will leave notes of encouragement and inspiration across the campus for students to find throughout the week. These may be found anywhere from in a library book to under a plate at Pearsons, to under a student’s own door. The notes are meant to provide encouragement and provide students with a surprise of support throughout the busy week.
The various events and lectures of this year’s Feeling Blue campaign can be kept up with via the project’s Facebook page. Here, students will also find daily music, videos and thoughts to lighten their moods and leave them with inspiration for the days at hand.