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Justin Quaintance

Annual UFlourish Week encourages students to play

By Scott Strasser, October 11 2016 —

The second annual UFlourish Week took place at the University of Calgary from Oct. 3–7.

The event featured activities to promote positive mental health and raise awareness of the mental health programming and services offered on campus.

Now in its second year, the week-long series of events is a collaborative effort between multiple U of C offices, departments and faculties.

“[UFlourish Week] highlights some things that you may not necessarily be aware are contributing to your mental health,” said Russell Thomson, a health promotion coordinator with the Students’ Union Wellness Centre. “When we look at playing, for example, not everyone really puts time or thought into unstructured activity, which is what playing is.”

According to UFlourish organizers, the activities were based on the five themes of Emory University professor Corey Keyes’ Mental Health Continuum. Those include playing, learning, interacting, helping and connecting.

“We had disc golf, giant Jenga and some other activities. There was also a paint night. All of the activities and events were categorized according to one of Dr. Keyes’ five themes, so we could encourage people to participate in the different categories,” said Katie Chapman, a mental health advisor with the U of C’s human resources department.

Chapman said the week also included a passport program that participants could check off  as they completed different types of UFlourish activities.

“It was really about challenging yourself,” she said.

UFlourish Week kicked off with a launch event on Oct. 3. The rest of the week featured workshops, health checks, working mind sessions, games and a theatre performance.

A highlight of UFlourish Week was the Wellness Fair at the Rosza Centre on Oct. 5, which several hundred U of C students, faculty and staff attended.

UFlourish Week came after the U of C launched a new campus-wide mental health strategy last December. The strategy was developed in response to the 2013 National College Health Assessment.

That assessment showed an increase in mental health problems among Canadian university students, such as a rise in the prevalence of depression, anxiety and stress.

Thomson said UFlourish Week offers a way to help and support not only students who are in crisis, but those across the entire mental health spectrum. He said it’s about being proactive regarding mental health on university campuses.

“We want to be able to offer programming that helps keep people in the green, that keeps them from going to yellow or going to orange,” he said. “Doing things you might not think are contributing to your mental health but they’re actually really positive.”

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