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‘Too Busy Flourishing’ event spreads the word about mental health and well-being

The event combined ASSU’s regular Friday Flowers giveaway with tables promoting The Flourish, an online publication with tips and resources, as well as other campus organizations.  

Music. Community. Family. Friends. Yoga. Sleep. These are just some of the answers Stanford students gave when asked, “What helps you flourish? What brings you joy?”

The answers were displayed on colorful Post-it notes on poster boards at the “Too Busy Flourishing” event, held in White Plaza on April 21 to kick off May Mental Health Awareness Month.

“It was a reflective, engaging activity for the students,” said Cherrial Odell, Class of 2025. Odell is one of three mental health and well-being interns in the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs who helped organize the event, which was co-sponsored by VPSA and the Associated Students of Stanford University.

“Too Busy Flourishing” combined ASSU’s regular Friday Flowers giveaway with tables promoting The Flourish, a student-driven online publication and email newsletter about mental health and well-being, as well as other campus organizations. The event aimed to attract new subscribers for The Flourish and also raise awareness of the many ways students can access support on campus. 

“The goal is to normalize and encourage discussion about mental health and well-being and to have students feel empowered to seek out those resources,” said Michaela Phan, Class of 2023 and mental health and well-being intern with VPSA, who helped to organize the event.

The Friday Flowers portion of the event was “a magnet to attract students to all the resources that were on display,” said Darryl Thompson, Class of 2023 and ASSU president. “We ran out of flowers in probably record time.”

Other giveaways were popular as well. Before the two-hour event was over, organizers had handed out nearly 400 Flourish-themed tote bags and 300 stickers, as well as 200 wallet-sized cards showing Mental Health Resources at Stanford.

Other campus groups that showcased their services during the event included Cardinal Recovery, Confidential Support Team, Counseling and Psychological Services, PEERs, Stanford Living Education, Weiland Health Initiative, and Well-Being at Stanford, as well as The Bridge Peer Counseling Center and Wellness Buddies.

“It was wonderful to see students engaged with our mental health and well-being campus partners. A handful of students even inquired about how they could get involved with The Flourish,” said Christine Wong Mineta, associate director of communications for student health and well-being.

Making mental health a priority

VPSA and ASSU have been working together for more than a year on ways to share mental health resources with students. One reason for this event’s success was that it was organized by students but also had the backing of the university administration.

“Students want to see that the university is putting their money where their mouth is and is committed at the very highest levels to issues of mental health and well-being,” Thompson said. “Even pre-COVID – and then exacerbated by COVID – there was a huge need from the student population for prioritizing mental health and well-being. The university has made strides in this area, but I do think we still have some way to go. The best way forward is to continue to work together.”

The Flourish is one part of that effort. Launched in fall 2021, the online publication and bi-weekly email are written by students in collaboration with professional partners on campus to promote mental health and well-being among students.

“We brainstorm what topics we should discuss: what is important to students? Then we work with Student Affairs and campus partners to make sure the information is as accurate and thorough as possible,” said Edward Tran, Class of 2023 and mental health and well-being intern with VPSA.

“During a period of time when there was really bad weather during winter quarter, we wrote about circadian rhythms and sunlight lamps,” Phan said.

The organizers of the April 21 event hope to continue to increase awareness of the mental health and well-being resources on campus and connect students to them in fun, creative ways.

“Bringing these resources to students is an important step in helping students make direct connections with support that is available to them,” Wong Mineta said. “We look forward to continuing to work with students to develop and ensure that mental health resources are available, accessible, and student-centered.”