Duck Nest organizes an art exhibition for Mental Health Awareness Month | Art and culture

As of spring 2021, an estimated 67% of UO students had “symptoms of at least one significant mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, or eating disorders.”RO Consulting Services. College student mental health is a pressing concern nationwide today, especially as campus communities continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As this May marks Mental Health Awareness Month nationwide, the University of Oregon has scheduled events for students aimed at destigmatizing mental health issues and sparking much-needed conversations.

The annual Mental Health Art Show will be held at UO’s Duck Nest Wellness Center on May 24th. This year’s theme is “Healing with Nature and Being in Nature” and focuses on students’ interpretations through different art styles ranging from poetry to painting.

The Duck’s Nest also encouraged students to submit virtual art forms to accommodate any students they wished to share, from films to original recorded songs. Blake Nelson, peer wellness coordinator at Duck Nest, discussed more about prioritizing accessibility when planning the event.

“We wanted to be aware that everyone’s pace when it comes to acclimating to campus will be very different,” Nelson said. “It was very important to us to give everyone the opportunity, even those who might not have the emotional energy, to host an in-person art exhibition.”

As the chaos of college life increases towards the end of the spring semester, it’s important that UO students have a safe space to express their feelings about mental health.

“Any art or discussion about mental health in general is very important because it lets people who may not have the latitude to really talk about it or explore that aspect of themselves know that it’s allowed, valid, and it’s accepted to do that and it looks different for everyone,” Nelson said.

Peer Wellness Coordinator Ava Hearn explained that as the college environment is characterized by a fast-paced “grinding culture.”

This “grind culture” mindset centralizes one’s work or career over self-care and one’s physical and mental health, and that’s not healthy.

“I think there’s been a bigger movement lately to discuss mental health on college campuses. But I think as much as we’re pushing this grind culture, we also need to be discussing mental health because it’s so relevant to academic success as well,” Hearn said. “We’re here to get people to slow down and think about their well-being as much as all the other things that are going on in their lives.”

The Mental Health Art Show will be held May 24 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Erb Memorial Union’s Lease Crutcher Lewis Room and is free to attendees. Hearn added that they plan to feature some of the artwork on Duck Nest Instagram for those unable to attend, and possibly hang some of the artwork at the UO Advisory Center.

“As a campus community, I feel like our strength when it comes to mental health is supporting one another when we can’t necessarily support ourselves,” Nelson said. “I like the fact that I can help educate other people and help move the conversation forward in a productive way.”

For more information about the Mental Health Art Show and the resources it provides duck nestcheck out her Instagram @uo_ducknest or the Duck Nest location at Erb Memorial Union.


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