Between classes, work and a social life, the thought of staying healthy may come as an afterthought for students. Columbia is holding the first Wellness Fair of the year on Oct. 20. The event not only offers free lunch for students, but also information and opportunities to seek on the spot assistance for health issues.
The Wellness Fair is a once-a-semester event that aims to provide students with an atmosphere in which they can address issues they currently struggle with.It also aims to provide a relaxing environment for students between classes by offering free massages.
“I’ve taken my personal experience and have tried to intentionally invite agencies addressing issues I see my students struggling with,” said Mark O’Brien, coordinator of Student Relations.
Unlike past semesters, this fair will focus on overall health and provide students with information and resources for services of which they can take advantage.
Both on-campus and community services will be represented at the fair, including Columbia Counseling Services, Residence Life, Insight Psychological Services, Chicago Department of Public Health, South Loop Young People’s Club and Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center.
Insight Psychological Services is a mental health center for young adults struggling with a variety of issues including eating disorders, anxiety and bipolar disorder. It will be one of the services represented at the event offering information about its different programs.
“We are really close with Columbia,” said Cindy Brom, director of business development for Insight Psychological Services. “We treat a lot of [Columbia] students. We do outreach [programs] to local institutions, so we have a long-standing relationship with the college.”
Brom said eating disorders are the No. 1 killer out of all mental illnesses for women ages 18 to 24.
“It really is an insidious disease that some people don’t think is dangerous,” Brom said. “But it can be deadly.”
Insight works with students based on financial need and scheduling to get them essential help. Brom said the fair’s goal is to make sure students get information on resources they or a friend needs.
“It’s definitely a great way to take that next step and get connected with help on campus or in the community,” O’Brien said.
He stressed the importance of seeking out mental and physical health resources for more than just becoming healthy but necessary to make it through coursework at school.
“The more connected students are and the more they access resources available to them, the more likely they are to regain control in their life and successfully complete the semester,” O’Brien said.
Though the focus is getting students information, O’Brien wants the event’s environment to be very relaxed for students, as it has been in the past.
“I think the feedback has been really positive,” O’Brien said. “Students like that it is a leisurely event, they can stroll through and decide what they want to learn about and hang out socially with peers. It’s just a laid-back break between classes and something that will hopefully be useful.”
Residence Life is sponsoring a Jimmy John’s lunch and providing services and resources presented at the Wellness Fair on an ongoing basis, said Kelly Collins,associate director for Residence Life.
“I definitely encourage all students to participate,” Collins said. “It is usually a very well-attended event.”
Collins said one of the fairs last year was focused on H1N1, but she is glad to see information provided on overall wellness.
At the fair, there will be health tips available on things such as meditation, safe sex practices and fitness.
O’Brien said the turnout has been great in the past and hopes it continues into this year.
“In a lot of my work, when I see students having personal issues, it is impairing the classroom,” O’Brien said. “The more aware of resources there are to help them, they can move through their education here and ultimately graduate.”
The Wellness Fair will be held on Oct. 20 from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Residence Center, 731 S. Plymouth Court.