By Erianne Lewis | Staff Writer
Baylor counseling staff gathered under a tent in front of the Bill Daniel Student Center midday Thursday to provide students with free self-care kits, t-shirts and a raffle for multiple prizes at the fourth annual Hope, Peace, Love event.
Dr. Brooke Hill-Allen, assistant director for community and diversity programming, said the event is designed as a way for Baylor counseling center to provide students with mental health awareness resources and self care information.
“The desire of this event is stigma reduction, bringing awareness to mental health and creating space for students to really engage in more self care,” Hill-Allen said. “So, finding unique ways, maybe not the things they automatically think of as self care, but really finding new ways to engage in self care and to take care of themselves throughout the time they are at Baylor and learn to use that beyond their time here.”
Regina Mastin, registered dietitian, said the event has been modified over the years.
“It has been transformed. It was Virtual Vacation about 10 years ago and it has kind of evolved as the needs of the students have evolved,” Mastin said.
Olympia, Wash., freshman Ellie Bocksch said she was walking around campus when she came across the tent.
“I love people, that’s really my heart, so I see people and I see the Hope, Peace and Love and I think ‘why would I not want to stop and be a part of that,’ that’s what really drew my attention,” Bocksch said.
Bocksch said her favorite part of the event was interacting with the counselors.
“I just enjoyed getting to meet these counselors who I haven’t had the chance to meet. I think in COVID that can be hard with situations, so to just get to talk to them and learn about them, to know that one of them has a daughter who’s a freshman—my same age—and know that they are really, truly here for students and excited about the fact that I’m here at Baylor,” Bocksch said.
Hill-Allen said COVID-19 has changed the capacity of the event, but it was important to Baylor counseling that they still have a way to connect with students, outside of the office.
“If this were a typical year, this would be a really big event where we would have active booths and tables and really [get] to converse with students to talk about a number of different ways that we bring awareness to mental health and self-care,” Hill-Allen said.
Hill-Allen said the goal of the event was for the counseling staff to see students in their everyday environments and to reassure them that the counseling center is always there as an additional resource and should not be a fearful place.
“The overall goal of Hope, Peace, Love is an opportunity for students to interact with the counseling center staff outside of our offices, for us to come to you guys,” Hill-Allen said. “Our hope for that is that it breaks down some of the concerns for students coming to the counseling center … We want you guys to also know there’s ways to engage in the discussion around mental health as a patient around mental health, that it is not scary. This is a form of a therapeutic process that we get to bring out in a different format.”