Members of the Ursinus community now have a quick, easily accessible resource for when they’re feeling stressed out.
The Relaxation Station, located on the third floor of Myrin Library, is a room that anyone can reserve. It has stress balls, books on mindfulness, comfy chairs, and a sun lamp for people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The idea came about through casual discussions between psychologists at the Wellness Center and members of the student government, according to Jessica Parrillo, director of counseling and wellness.
“In discussing the trends of ongoing increased rates of students utilizing Wellness for individual counseling and the well- documented levels of anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health concerns among college students, we started brainstorming additional ways to access students other than just traditional therapy,” said Parrillo in an email.
The space is meant to not just be a one-time resource, either. According to Parrillo, the organizers hope that it will encourage a culture of care surrounding students’ mental health.
“In creating this room, we are aiming to cultivate not only a space, but a lifestyle of growth and enrichment,” said Parrillo, adding that the staff at Wellness has seen people benefit from regularly practicing mindfulness habits to manage stress.
“I do think that it is especially useful to have this tool and resource available to students, because even though someone may not be open about their stress, now they have a private room to go to where they have a stress ball, they have a light box,” said Robert Rein, president of the Ursinus student government.
Rein said that mental health has become a focal point for student government this semester, and that they hope to use the station as a jumping- off point for further initiatives.
The space itself really accomplishes its goal of just providing a space to get away for a little. The third floor of the library has a built in silence that helps, and the general vibe is calm. It’s like scoring a collaborative workroom in the library, but without people constantly peering in and without the work. It’s hard to leave without a clearer head.
Privacy is paramount for the room, according to Parrillo. In order to access it, students have to sign in with the front desk at the library (full names aren’t necessary; initials will suffice). Once you’re in the room, the windows are mostly tinted to prevent people from looking in, and a sign is posted on the door instructing potential users to check with the front desk before entering. You also have to swipe your Ursinus ID to get in.
Still, despite these measures, both Parrillo and Rein understand that there is a stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues. That said, they hope that these measures and this resource will help reduce that stigma.
“My idealistic hope here is that we will help create a culture which promotes mindfulness as a proactive strategy for all students to manage their stress and health and that there need not be a stigma involved in this form of self-care,” said Parrillo.
“You might feel a little self-conscious, a little hesitant to try this room out, but if your normal resources and patterns aren’t working to get the help you need, then it’s not the worst thing in the world to try something new,” he said. “And we want to provide that for students.”
He also hopes students realize that they are not the only ones struggling with mental health issues.
“You definitely shouldn’t stigmatize someone for trying something new [like this resource], and if you’re afraid of being stigmatized, know there’s so many people out there like you,” he said. “They may not be as open about it or they may be very shy about it, but you’re not the only one suffering from this.”
The Relaxation Station is available any time that the library is open.
Parillo and Rein both encouraged students who may be struggling with mental health issues to visit Wellness. More information on warning signs, preventative measures, and how to schedule an appointment is available online at https://www.ursinus.edu/offices/wellness-center/.