When finals draw near, high stress tends to be an inescapable reality for college students. This year, Salt Lake Community College’s Center for Health and Counseling (CHC) wanted to ensure that the last week of the spring 2023 semester wasn’t devoid of relaxation and amusement.
Stress Less was a three-day event organized by the CHC one week before finals, held at the Taylorsville Redwood, Jordan and South City campuses. For three hours each day, students filtered through to de-stress by engaging in positive distractions.
“We want to support students, and particularly their mental health,” said Katherine Testa, health promotion coordinator for the CHC. “We want them to know there are resources available. We can plant the seed [of support], and they have to take the next step, but we’re here [for them].”
South City’s event, which took place in the often-silent student forum, erupted in music, laughter and occasional barks from therapy dogs as students decompressed with crafts, free pizza and even a massage chair.
Frank Vales was one student who found Stress Less to be a much-needed respite from their finals. They saw the therapy dogs and immediately made a beeline for the student forum, where they also completed origami and partook in pizza.
“I like to plan ahead a lot to destress,” said Vales. “I saw the therapy dogs and couldn’t resist. I had to see what was going on.”
At each event, a wealth of information about SLCC resources and groups was made available to students. They included the school’s Writing Center, STEM Learning Resources lab, Gender and Sexuality Student Resource Center, and the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (ODMA).
“We’re here for students who are looking for more community,” said Sendys Estevez, ODMA student success coordinator for Latinx students. Although Estevez works primarily with Latinx students, she appeared at South City’s event to provide information about student success as a whole.
Making students aware of the various resources available to them at SLCC was a key component of Stress Less. Many students, for example, do not know that an in-person ePortfolio lab exists on campus, said lab coordinator Kemone Feleti, who was accompanied by team members Tricio Salgado and Martin Gaucin.
“Today, students get to meet the team,” said Feleti. “In our office, it’s largely an inviting, stress-free atmosphere where our specialists help [students] complete their ePortfolio, add assignments and get answers to important questions.”
“A lot of students don’t know that ePortfolio’s are a high-impact practice,” Feleti continued. “They are helpful in thinking more deeply and [reflecting] on your education.”
In addition to highlighting various resources, the CHC also wanted to remind students of their basic needs during finals week.
“We always advocate for getting good sleep,” Testa said. “We know it’s easy during finals to … stay up late and cram, but you still need to manage your sleep. Try to move your body as much as you can, get some sunlight and eat as well as you can—in whatever way is accessible to you.”
The CHC offers therapy appointments, psychiatric appointments and general counseling. The center holds the collaborative Stress Less events every semester the week before finals and invites all students to come and get to know the resources they have at their disposal.