Self-Care Summit attendees engage in improv games with Adjunct Lecturer of Theatre Laura Jean Schwartau (left). As part of the summit’s programming May 6, Schwartau hosted an activity called “Act Happy, Be Happy” at the Relaford Room in Macomb Hall.
By Aleksandra Sidorova
A Self-Care Summit organized by the student-led mental health awareness campaign #HealWithIt engaged the Plattsburgh community in programming all across campus Saturday, May 6. The event was also referred to as Self-Care Saturday.
The summit began with a welcome session at Cardinal Lounge on the second floor of the Angell College Center. Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman called #HealWithIt a “critical campaign in our community” and spoke on the importance of educating a community about mental health.
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman smiles as he shows the Self-Care Summit attendees his hand painted green May 6 in Cardinal Lounge at the Angell College Center. Cashman had signed a pledge in support of self-care.
“Self-care is community care,” Cashman said.
Cashman signed the paper with #HealWithIt’s pledge in support of self-care and painted the palm of his hand bright green — a distinguishing symbol of the #HealWithIt campaign.
Robert Henn, one of the 16 students part of #HealWithIt, said the intention of the summit is to direct attendees’ attention to the eight pillars of wellness the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration identifies: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, vocational and financial. Every one of the summit’s events corresponded to one or multiple of these pillars.
The physical pillar refers to taking care of one’s body and was satisfied by a Kundalini yoga session led by student Saanvi Moryani. The emotional pillar encourages people to understand their own emotions and be considerate of others’. The features dedicated to this pillar were therapy dogs from Canine Kennel Club and the Student Health and Counseling Center all day at the ACC.
For the spiritual pillar exploring one’s values and view of life, the club Learning and Experiencing God and the Plattsburgh Baha’i Community held a panel and answered questions in the Cardinal Lounge.
To satisfy the environmental pillar of wellness representing one’s connection with their indoor and outdoor environments, attendees could take a Nature Walk with the club Active Minds on the Saranac River Trail.
The vocational and financial pillars represent growing professionally and managing one’s money. To help with these aspects of life, the National Association of Black Accountants held a financial literacy class called “Turning Lemons into Lemonade” in the Cardinal Lounge. Professor Emerita of Music Jo Ellen Miano also held a session for collective and expressive singing at Winkel Sculpture Court in the Myers Fine Arts Building.
The last two pillars — intellectual and social — encourage one to break out of their comfort zone and seek out new experiences while finding a community.
Many events satisfied multiple pillars at once, such as physical, emotional, intellectual and social. In Macomb Hall’s Relaford Room, the events included a modern dance class with instructor Jessica Bouharevich, improv games with Adjunct Lecturer of Theatre Laura Jean Schwartau and Art for Self-Care by Assistant Professor of Social Work Kim McCoy Coleman and students Mckenna Brazie and Sebrina Call. At Winkel, Moryani taught Asana yoga. Psychologist and therapist Sharon Theroux visited the SUNY Plattsburgh campus to hold self-compassion and mindful eating sessions in Feinberg Library’s third-floor Reading Room. There was also a three-hour self-care session for children at Sibley Hall, led by the Council for Exceptional Children.
Some sessions are available on campus outside of the summit, such as the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Circle led by professors Michele Bonati and Bridget Haina in the H.U.B. at the ACC.
Some Self-Care Saturday activities at the ACC spanned the summit’s entire duration from noon to 7 p.m. Those in attendance could interact with therapy dogs and have a photo of them taken after signing #HealWithIt’s self-care pledge. The photos were printed onto sticker paper and stuck on a board to create a mural displayed at the ACC.
The selection of events follows #HealWithIt’s goal to acquaint the community with resources to help anyone with any of their mental health needs. #HealWithIt members including Moryani and Adviser Michelle Ouellette said they noticed high attendance from the surrounding Plattsburgh community.
The timing of the summit coincides with the approach of finals week, and May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Organizers have expressed the hope for Self-Care to become an annual event and for #HealWithIt to remain a permanent entity on campus, such as a club.
Watch our video about the summit on the Cardinal Points News YouTube channel.