Annual Stress Less Carnival brings dogs and mental health resources to students before finals

A trio of golden retrievers bring comfort and smiles to a group of students. Photo by Maristela Romero.

By Maristela Romero

Mental health awareness groups lined McKeldin mall Wednesday with booths for the Stress Less Carnival hosted by Active Minds at Maryland to inform students on a variety of ways to relax before the upcoming finals week.

The annual event offered painting, ring toss and stress ball-making among other activities to serve as avenues for students to practice self-care.

“We have a lot of organizations that are also involved in mental health advocacy on campus, so bringing them all together in one place is great,” said Active Minds at Maryland President Jenna Nelson, a senior hearing and speech science major.

Students milled around to talk to representatives from the RecWell Center, the University Counseling Center and a handful of other organizations that offered destressing tips and services, as well as giveaways.

“No matter what you’re going through, you can find somewhere to connect and some table to find some comfort in,” said Lucy Wurwand, a CARE to Stop Violence peer educator.

The sophomore criminal justice major encouraged students to play a round of giant Jenga with pieces that coincided with facts to alleviate stress. However, the information booths were no match for the popularity of the therapy dogs that had their own designated tent.

“And of course, who doesn’t love these dogs? Even just watching them from over here, I’m feeling some secondhand calmness,” Wurwand said.

In addition to providing access to different types of mental health services, fun activities and dogs, there was also free ice cream handed out to attendees from the Maryland Dairy.

Second year public policy graduate student Christine Guo said she was drawn to the event’s stress less theme and came to explore the carnival after seeing the accompanying activities on a Facebook post.

“I like the ice cream part. But for myself I would not go for ice cream because part of my stress comes from health constraints,” Guo said.

She suggested adding a variety of food concession stands to next year’s lineup to encourage higher attendance so more students can benefit from the carnival.

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