caps
Photo: Irina Bit-Babik / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Mental Wellness Week, which started on Monday and continues until Saturday, may be just the antidote to your stressful week: a weeklong series of mental health-focused events, which include therapy dogs, stress balls and quizzo. 

This annual week of programming, born out of a collaboration between Counseling and Psychological Services and a variety of groups such as Active Minds and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, is now in its fourth year and ready to expand.

A $2,000 fund allocated by Penn Wellness facilitated the expansion of this year’s series and broadened its focus to different and more diverse areas of Penn, organizers said in a recent interview.

“In the past, [students] had to plan with funding in mind and also [had to] figure out creative ways to apply for funding,” CAPS Director of Outreach and Prevention Meeta Kumar said. But now, “there’s this nice sort of support and structure for them, and it’s been really a huge help.”

Undergraduate Chair of the CAPS Student Advisory Board and Wharton senior Allie Baretta said the goal this year is to reach more student groups on campus that might not usually be involved in mental health issues.

“Among a lot of the mental wellness clubs, the same people are in all of the clubs,” Baretta said. “It’s great that there’s a powerful group of advocates, but we’re missing the connections to a diverse group of the student body, so I think that was reflected by the groups that we chose to be part of the board this year.”

Wharton cohorts are hosting rock paintings on Tuesday, alongside various other familiar mental wellness events, from spending time with therapy dogs to exercise classes and a film-watching session. (This session, where students will watch the documentary “Unbroken Glass” and meet filmmaker Dinesh Sabu, replaces the typical keynote speaker event for this year’s event series.)

“It’s important when we talk about mental wellness week to really note how far we have come,” Kumar said, “from originally just being just one student group just trying to spread some awareness and de-stigmatize and have one evening that they spent a lot of time planning, to now having such a jam-packed week with just so much happening.”

“It’s just really exciting to have come this far,” she added.

With the establishment of the umbrella group Penn Wellness over the past year, it has become easier to reach more students in a variety of different ways.

Chair of Penn Wellness, College junior Kathryn DeWitt, said she hopes Mental Wellness Week can be a conversation starter among students who are not generally involved in the mental health community.

“For people who are leaders and involved in mental wellness groups, this is often our lives,” she said. “But for the broader Penn community, some of them may not know what Penn Benjamins is or what [the Reach-a-Peer] line is and this is an opportunity for those individuals to realize that there are options out there for help.”

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.