Royal blue shirts with bold white letters spelling “DREAM, STRUGGLE, VICTORY” swamped the CSUN campus and provided students with entertainment, food and information. The suicide and depression prevention program, The Blues Project, produced their second annual “Beat the Blues Week,” which kicked off this past Monday.
The program is made up of approximately 40 students and staff. Together they brainstormed on what this year’s depression awareness week would include. Students going to and from classes were encouraged to participate in the several activities the organization planned to provide information on how to cope with depression and symptoms.
Monday, behind the University Student Union offices, students raced against time through a bounce house turned obstacle course. The physical activity and friendly competition helps to produce endorphins and becomes a distraction from any stress the body and mind might be experiencing according to Lucy Reyes, a peer educator.
“It’s educational. It’s important for us to get our message across, so people know what the Blues Project is about,” says Reyes, 21, senior Psychology major. “It’s a prevalent issue within the college population. The obstacle course was just an added incentive.”
One of the most attended events took place Tuesday in Matador Square. The Blues Project, and University Student Counseling Services invited many of the health related student-run organizations to present in the table fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.. The Student Recreation Center, and other mental and body health student programs, J.A.D.E. and Project D.A.T.E. were present.
Participants were given a passport and were asked to visit each table. Each table had a short minute-long activity providing different ways an individual may cope with depression. Upon completing the activities, students earned stamps marking the visit. After receiving 12 stamps, students were given a free taco and beverage prepared on campus. The tacos were co-sponsored by International Medical Fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon.
Jesus Monreal, 23, a nutrition major, said he did not know about the event until he saw it while coming out of class. Monreal says the free taco incentive won him over. He visited all 12 tables and left with a handful of flyers and information.
“It was pretty cool. I just finished taking a test, and saw the people,” says Montreal. “I really liked the nature relaxation table. It was relieving.”
One of the groups represented, a campus counseling phone service called the Help Line, says events like these helps bring awareness to the existence of campus resources and get’s students involved. Shonekwa James, 22, senior, Psychology major, is also the treasurer for the organization. James says that she is glad the Blues Project put together the event again and hopes it continues for the years to come.
“Not a lot of students know that the Help Line exists,” says James. “They think they have to go through things alone, but they don’t. We can help.”
Another resource on campus featured in “Beat the Blues” week was the Living Well Lounge. The department is located adjacent to the Northridge Center in the the Plaza del Sol. Wednesday afternoon, the department and the Blues project co-hosted a workshop dedicated to healthy sleeping. The room, the size of small classroom, was filled with about 40 students.
Kathy Bermudez is one of the public health promotion interns working at the Living Well Lounge. Bermudez put together an interactive presentation engaging students to reflect on their sleeping habits and pre-bedtime choices. She provided tips such as building ideal sleep environments in order to invite the body and mind to rest.
“Having a dark room, maybe getting the shades to close off all the light, putting away all electronics, will help you fall asleep,” says Bermudez. “Maybe some light-noise machine with maybe a sound like a jungle sound, or rain falling, will definitely help you to fall asleep. It depends on what kind of music relaxes you.”
Andrea Elzy, coordinator for peer-education programs on campus over saw that all events and helped them run smoothly. Elzy says it was all student organized and student-ran. She was just going around to see that nothing else was needed.
“They wanted to bring awareness to mental health,” says Elzy. “They asked themselves, ‘how do we get the attention of the students.’ I think the group (the Blues Project) did a great job in answering it.”
Elzy says the other peer-educated groups such as J.A.D.E and Project D.A.T.E. are already planning their week-long activities for the upcoming semester. She hopes it will achieve the same success rate.