Thursday, July 25, 2024

Perspective: A Celebration of the Arts and Mental Health

Adults color various coloring pages with colored pencils. Photograph by Jenn Gaylor.


By Victoria Campbell

Editor’s Note: Victoria Campbell reports on #HealWithIt’s Art Expo as a member of #HealWithIt.

Wellness Week brought several activities and events to SUNY Plattsburgh’s campus. #HealWithIt was one group that joined in.

This campaign’s goal is to spread mental health awareness on campus.

Specifically, the different elements that can impact one’s mental state and emphasizing the importance of self-care. The group highlights the eight pillars of mental wellness: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, vocational and financial.

“The eight dimensions are important. As the years go on, people undergo a lot of mental health issues,” said Ziaire Ferrell, a member of #HealWithIt. “Just being aware of the eight dimensions can help you through it.”

The student-run campaign had its first event this semester  from 1:30 to 5 p.m. on March 1: an Art Expo. The event had music and art activities like coloring and alcohol painting, as well as other activities like making essential oils. The group also collaborated with the Plattsburgh Association of the Visual Arts in mandala making.

The Art Expo touched on several of the eight dimensions of wellness, such as physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual.

The event started at noon with a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation circle in the H.U.B. The plan for the circle was to encourage students, faculty and the community to open up and grow together.

“For the first event, there was a lot to like,” professor and group leader Michelle Ouellette said. “Like with a lot of events on campus, I would like it if there were more people.”

Since the pandemic, #HealWithIt has had a hard time getting students to come and participate in the events and learn more about mental health. One of their goals is to increase student participation and show how these events can also be fun while being educational. 

Once 1:30 p.m. hit, the art activities started.

Essential oil making was in the H.U.B., while food, coloring, karaoke, and the Plattsburgh Gospel Choir performance were in Burghy’s Lounge. PAVA also hosted isopropyl alcohol painting in conjunction with the event.

Ouellette said the goal of these events is for people to understand that self-care can be fun but is also essential.

“Karaoke was one of my favorite activities offered at the event,” Ferrell said.

Emcee Kaliyah Green was impressed by the event’s outcome but wished more students had attended.

“I joined #HealWithIt because I wanted to learn more about mental health and struggles that occur within students and how I can contribute to it,” Green said.

Educational reminders were shared about the eight dimensions, and refreshments were offered.

Mental health awareness is essential. It does not need to be a touchy topic; it can be educational and engaging. These activities allow students, community members and faculty to open up about their struggles in a welcoming, positive environment.

Find out more about the eight pillars of mental wellness and how to get involved with #HealWithIt at

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