UMD’s Self-Care Fair honors mental health awareness week
By Elana Mutnick
October 3, 2022
Image Credit: The UMD Department of Resident Life
Image credit: The UMD Department of Resident Life
The Mental Health Coalition is hosting a campus wide interactive mental health & self-care fair as a part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
The Self-Care Fair will take place on Friday, October 8th, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at McKeldin Mall. Student organizations and campus departments at the Self-Care Fair will host the UMD community through games, activities, resources, and giveaways to promote self-care and end mental health silence.
The Program Manager of TerrapinSTRONG and organizer of the Self-Care Fair, Dr. Leslie Krafft, said she hopes everyone who attends the fair will walk away with at least one additional resource at their disposal to take good care of their mental health. “Silence and stigma around mental health and mental illness are still prevalent,” said Krafft. “The more we can make it okay to talk about, the more likely people will be to feel safe seeking support when they need it.” Many members of the Mental Health Coalition will be tabling alongside each other with their clubs or campus departments. The carnival-like environment, filled with inflatables, therapy dogs, lawn games, and more, is meant to create an atmosphere for people to meet others open to talking about mental health and the stigmas surrounding mental illness. Brian Medina, Program Manager of Bias Incident Support Services, said mental health requires a community of care. Events like the Self-Care Fair remind people that nobody is ever alone. “Mental health is something many of us struggle to maintain, and having dozens of groups and organizations available to navigate that alongside you can be immensely powerful,” said Medina.
Bias Incident Support Services plans to give away magnets, brochures, and candy to those who attend the Fair. Many campus organizations that plan on attending hope to open up conversations about some specific communities that struggle to open up about mental health.
A UMD’s South Asian Student Association member, Swarna Velumani, said it is of utmost importance to keep this conversation at the forefront of advocacy, especially for members of the South Asian community. “We are extremely excited to bring this conversation to the wider student population, but we do feel the pressure to do right by our South Asian community since this topic is heavily stigmatized,” Velumani said. Velumani said she wants to highlight how South Asian women have a higher risk of mental health disorders than other groups and thinks that this event is an excellent opportunity to discuss the intersection between mental health and the South Asian community. The first Self-Care Fair in 2018, previously called the Terps Take Care Fair before it moved over to The Mental Health Coalition, saw about 50 attendees, according to Krafft. Last year, there were thousands of people at McKeldin Mall. “Watching the event grow and thrive is a thrill for me,” Krafft said. Krafft said she wants everyone to feel represented by the organizations at the Self-Care Fair so they can feel represented by their own communities. “The more we address mental health as a larger community, the more we have access to essential resources without shame or embarrassment,” said Medina.