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October 15, 2017

Spa Night Kicks Off Third Annual Mental Health Awareness Week

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Besides the prospect of free popcorn, Cornellians could drop into Willard Straight Hall to destress and get a free professional massage on Saturday night.

This second edition of Spa Night, which boasted over 500 in attendance last year, is kicking off this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, said Matt Jirsa ’19, Cornell Minds Matter’s vice president of events.

Spa Night is the first of many events this week meant to increase conversation and “stomp out stigma” about mental health on campus, Jirsa said.

Cornell Minds Matter — a group that Jirsa says is dedicated to bringing about “tangible culture change towards a more positive campus mental health culture” — is hosting these events in its third annual Mental Health Awareness Week.

“The main goal of the week is to show that mental health plays a role in all of our lives and if we increase conversation surrounding it we are actively improv[ing] campus climate and striv[ing] towards impactful change,” Jirsa said.

Although Mental Health Awareness week is important, Jirsa believes that the discussion around mental health should not begin and end with the week.

Outside of the events of the week, Jirsa said that he “encourage[s] all students to think critically about how mental health affects their own lives and just talk to friends and family about it.”

“Our biggest and most readily available assets at Cornell are our communities that serve as support groups for our individual mental health,” he added.

While the Spa Night is an important event hosted during the week, another popular event Lift Your Spirits Day. Other events during the week will include Pumpkin Decorating, EARS Training, Zumba, and Yoga.

Lift Your Spirits Day will include activities such as “photo campaigns, mental health information, lectures [and] de-stress activities,” Jirsa said.

The event will be going from 1 to 4 p.m. on the Arts Quad Wednesday.

Cornell Mental Health Awareness week was founded three years ago by Cornell Minds Matter member Matt Indimine ’18, who is still involved in its planning. Additionally, Cornell Minds Matter member Mayra Valadez ’18 has also been involved in the execution of the week.

Indimine said he started this event three years ago after hosting an event for mental health awareness that was attended by a single student.

Later he found out that this was because another event for mental health awareness was occurring concurrently.

This week, he said, is meant to create “a centralized platform and resource to foster collaboration amongst them, and to show the student body the cliche but true Caring Community that exists.”

Three years later, this event has grown and engaged even more communities — certainly surpassing the attendance of one person at Indimine’s past event.

True to its origins, however, Indimine said he hopes that out of this week, students recognize that “they are not alone in their struggles.

Anna Delwiche ’19 contributed reporting to this story.