Events culminate around an increased focus on mental health and wellness for students and employees

Rutgers University–New Brunswick is launching its first Mental Health and Wellness Week with a series of programs to address the mental health needs of students and employees.

The programs throughout the week of April 25 are part of Chancellor-Provost Francine Conway’s effort to establish a culture of wellness at RutgersNew Brunswick, consistent with President Jonathan Holloway’s commitment to building a beloved community and the Academic Master Plan’s focus on student success. The toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on individual well-being played a role, too.

“As the past two years have reminded us, our responsibilities to ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities must include looking after our own mental health and wellness,’’ Conway said. “Rutgers–New Brunswick’s commemoration of Mental Health and Wellness Week is part of our establishment of a culture of wellness for students, faculty, and staff, and our recognition that personal well-being is vitally important to our institutional success.”

Each day’s activities will provide insights into the mental health needs of students and employees, call attention to available resources and encourage the Rutgers community to take time each day for self-care. Events are open to all students, staff and faculty. Registration is required for certain events.

The inaugural Chancellor-Provost’s Mental Health and Wellness Lecture, a webinar led by Shireen Rizvi at noon on April 25, is a cornerstone of the week’s programs.

Rizvi, a professor of clinical psychology at the Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP), will introduce practical skills during the Zoom webinar – such as mindfulness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance – that students, faculty, and staff can use to manage difficult emotions and stressful situations, and to achieve emotional wellness.

The week – which includes over 45 programs – offers substantive lectures and trainings, along with diverse opportunities to pause, relax and mindfully engage with Rutgers community members.

Students, staff and faculty will have the opportunity to decompress through animal therapy with miniature horses at the Busch Student Center on April 26 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The Zimmerli Art Museum will provide materials for a “Drop-in Coloring Station” and host a guided relaxation and “Sound Bath” with Tibetan/Himalayan singing bowls, crystal bowls, chimes and other sound instruments on April 27. The session will be led by Sarah Yeung, a sound healer who is a nationally recognized advocate for mental health.

“As an ancient healing tradition of over 2,000 years, sound healing has been found to help reduce stress, balance chakras, and bring harmony at the cellular levels,” Yeung said.

Members of the community can also take a moment to relax with a chair massage on Livingston or Busch campus. Keep an eye out for wellness giveaways and healthy snacks offered at various locations during the week.

The week offers various virtual events and resources, including: “I Need a Minute” 60-second mindfulness exercises, led by Peter Economou, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, and Nikita Cuvilje, health education specialist at Rutgers Student Health, at 9 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m. every day on Facebook. The Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station will provide “Mindful Meditation and Stress Reduction” and “Learning to Feed Your Family Stress-Free” webinars at noon and 2 p.m. on April 27.

All are invited to plant flowers in designated “Planting the Seeds of Wellness” areas on Busch, College Avenue, Cook/Douglass and Livingston campuses. Outdoor yoga, hosted by Rutgers Recreation, followed by a wellness reception in Deiner Park on the afternoon of April 28 offers a place to unwind before finals.

Rutgers Student Health’s Health Outreach, Promotion & Education (HOPE) peer mental health educators will host workshops on gratitude, compassion and the importance of play. HOPE wellness coaches will hold one-on-one Speed Wellness Coaching sessions on April 26 and 27 to help students identify solutions toward their future wellness goals.

Stress management and resiliency resources include: “Mental Health Moments” produced by GSAPP; and “90 Seconds of Resiliency” videos produced by University Behavioral Health Care to help build and maintain resilience.

“This special week of activities will remind each of us of the mental health needs that students and employees face; call attention to resources that can help us address those needs; and encourage all of us to take time, each day, to care for ourselves,” Conway said.

Rutgers has many mental health and wellness resources available to assist students and employees, Conway said, including Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program & Psychiatric Services (CAPS), Center for Psychological Services, Student Wellness Program, Resident Wellness Program, Employee Counseling, Rutgers4U, Rutgers Recreation, Health Outreach, Promotion & Education (HOPE), and more.

A complete list of events and resources is available on the Mental Health and Wellness Week website.

Mental Health and Wellness events, led by various schools, will continue on Rutgers Day, including The Psychologist is In, Sleep, Social Media, and Science: Let's Talk Mental Health, Telephone Recovery Support Program, and School-Based Spin to Win.