As many of us know, college can be a notoriously stressful time without many outlets to relax or recharge. To help with that stress, Penn State Wilkes-Barre offers a variety of services in counseling to help students take care of themselves in ways they may not have considered.
One of the programs offered is Therapeutic Thursday, a fun and engaging outreach program that focuses on mental health and well-being. The monthly event is sponsored by Counseling Services at Penn State Wilkes-Barre.
“We began offering Therapeutic Thursday as an effort to make Counseling Services more visible and accessible to students,” said Sarah Luvender-Newman, mental health counselor at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. “We hope to engage more students in acts of self-care and overall well-being. An engaged, mentally and emotionally well student is a successful student.”
Therapeutic Thursdays are held once a month in the Student Commons from 12 to 1:30 p.m. This semester’s Therapeutic Thursdays include:
Feb. 13: Self Love, focusing on positive self-talk and healthy self-esteem
March 19: Sleep + Mental Health, with a sleep mask giveaway and information about sleep and mental health
April 9: De-stress for Finals, with details to be announced
All students are invited to participate at no cost and snacks are provided. Past events have included guided meditation, aromatherapy, bubble breathing, making mala bracelets, practicing gratitude, and creating a mantra.
Each month’s focus is designed to provide students with the opportunity to decompress and slow down. Through the planned activities, they learn to practice mindfulness and how to care for themselves.
For example, during the program on creating a mantra, students learned how to create a short phrase or saying that they can repeat to remind themselves they are safe, well and able to overcome the challenges they may be facing. Mantras are meant to bring one back to simplicity and the present. Students who attended the program were able to take home a mantra wristband as a visual reminder to help refocus their thoughts.
Therapeutic Thursday began at the start of the fall 2016 semester and many students who have attended an event come back for other programs in the lineup.
Sehara Rowles, a junior majoring in rehabilitation and human services, has attended more than 10 Therapeutic Thursday events.
“I recommend them to everyone because they are just great social events and give you, as a student, a brain break, even if only for 10 minutes a month. I find it very helpful to take that break, which every student needs at some point during the semester,” she said. “I always encourage students to go and tell them: ‘go feel good about yourself and take a snack.’ Plus, I always recommend people to introduce themselves to Sarah, who is one of my favorite people on campus. She's helpful and so kind and is truly a great asset to our Penn State family.”
Therapeutic Thursdays are a great way for students to meet the counselor on campus. Luvender-Newman said that since the program began, she has had students request to schedule a counseling appointment after attending a Therapeutic Thursday – or even while attending.
Therapeutic Thursday allows students to work on their mental health without visiting a counselor’s office or making an appointment to see a mental health provider.
“You don't have to attend a therapy session to attend these events. They make taking care of yourself and raising awareness around mental health accessible to everyone, even those who never step foot into my office,” Luvender-Newman said.