By Kathleen Mooney ’16
Megan O’Hara, Wellness Educator at Merrimack College, is working tirelessly to make this Wellness Week extremely successful and educational. The main goal of Wellness Week is to look at it holistically; that is, looking at physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness, with a focus on mental health.
Megan aims to “start conversations about mental health and to challenge the stigma that currently exists around it.” She hopes to educate people on the importance of taking care of one’s whole self and to put one’s own health first, which includes not just working out, but eating, sleeping, talking with friends, making authentic connections, and to seek help when they need it.
“We are told to get physically checked out, but never told to check on our brain.”
A new group, called Active Minds, has been approved as a new student organization to advocate and continue to educate people on holistic wellness throughout the year. The first meeting is Tuesday, October 27th from 4:30-5:30PM. Anyone who is looking to get involved in this cause is encouraged to attend.
It has been a busy week for this newly established office, as Wellness Week kicked off on Sunday with a mass. Father Ray focused his homily on God’s role in mental health. Mass was followed by a prayer service with the resounding theme that “you are not alone.”
On Monday, two Seaton Hall alumni came and spoke to Merrimack students about fire safety and the importance of listening to and respecting fire alarms. On Tuesday, Kai Roberts, from the Active Minds national organization spoke of his struggle with anxiety and O.C.D. and how music was the outlet he needed to manage his stress.
On Wednesday, Megan’s office held a free flu shot clinic, which was visited by more students than past years. Merrimack’s new psychologist professor, Lauri Kurdiel, who focuses on sleep, is screening the movie Inception and speaking on the importance of sleep and some techniques to get a better night’s sleep. Thursday is dedicated to free mental health screening, specifically testing for anxiety and depression.
Regardless of whether you suffer from anxiety or depression, Megan wants everyone to attend, as it de-stigmatizes and may encourage those who need help to seek it.
Friday is a painting day, focused on a therapeutic way to de-stress and express oneself. It is not focused on the final product, but rather the process.
All week, there have been free fitness classes. They have been tabling outside of Sparky’s. Through the tabling, Megan has been able to start a social media campaign, taking photos of students holding a sign where they are pledging to “encourage positive mental and holistic help.”
Megan would like students to keep their eyes peeled for a survey that will help her office to understand which topic to focus on.