Active Minds, known for its work in eliminating social stigmas surrounding mental illness, received a $500 grant to fund its “Calm Before the Storm” event. The group educates the community on other alternatives to “break the silence” and offer support to those suffering with mental health issues.
“Calm Before the Storm” will include arts and craft tables — including adult coloring books for color therapy — paint stations, puzzles, a bubble station, free bubble wrap and puppies for students to pet.
According to research from the University of Missouri-Columbia, petting puppies helps with stress. When humans and dogs interact, a hormonal change takes place. Preliminary results from the study show that a few minutes of stroking a dog prompts a release of “feel good” hormones in humans, including serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin.
Active Minds plans to bring in dogs from nearby shelters, which serves the double purpose of getting dogs out of their cages and getting people out of their study groups. As a result, the dogs get attention and the students get relief.
Joshua Gibson, who has been a member of Active Minds for two years, said the event is a way to “get your mind off of finals and recenter yourself before they start.”
“If you let that stress build up beforehand, you won’t be able to handle finals as well,” he said. “We try to give people different outlets of how to manage that.”
Each Mind Matters, the group providing the grant alongside a “Lime Green Ribbon Partnership,” describes itself as “California’s mental health movement.” The organization is a “collaboration of millions of individuals and thousands of organizations working to advance mental health,” according to the Each Mind Matters website.
While Active Minds normally uses money from its own chapter fund, with help from ASI and the Health Center, the group now has a little more leeway to make this event better than before, said Active Minds President Eddie Lopez.
This year will be the first in which the group can afford to rent canopies for the event, Lopez said. “That was the first grant we applied for and we got (it),” Lopez said.
This semester’s “Calm Before the Storm” will be held Thursday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the central quad.