For the first week of February, the UPenn chapter of Campus Curlz held a mental health awareness campaign to remind all of the people on our campus to take care of themselves, especially at the start of the new semester. While some people deem the time in college as the best years of their lives, being in college can be one of the most mentally taxing times in one’s life. With all that we put on our plates (classes, clubs, jobs, and planning for the future) we can forget to take care of ourselves. We wanted to remind all those on campus and in the curl community that their mental well-being matters in addition to all of the other things in life.
Mental Health Week at UPenn
Unfortunately, people with natural hair are still being prosecuted for their hair. There have been countless cases in which black women have had to endure crazy and sometimes demeaning treatment. This can include having your hair touched by other coworkers. Or, for those natural sisters and brothers with locs, facing suspension because of their hair. More recently, DeAndre Arnold was told that he would not be allowed to walk at graduation until he cuts his locs off. All of these instances can cause negative feelings and we may even begin to question our worth. On Tuesday, February 4, we held a discussion called the “Politics of Natural Hair” where our community could come together and talk about the different ways that our mental health can be affected due to the treatment we receive because of our hair.
As a way to give our campus an outlet and a break from everyday life, we hosted a
stress relieving session, composed of meditation and interactive activities. This event allowed us to meet new friends and reconnect with old friends. An hour break, away from our stressors, playing games and getting in tune with our bodies gave us all a much needed reset. In an effort to make a difference outside of our campus, we sold cookies and doughnuts to raise money for the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We were able to raise over $70 to donate to this organization.
Are you taking care of you?
There are many different things that fall under the realm of “self-care” like face masks, bubble baths, and mani-pedis. Do these actually help your mental health? They may give you the time and space to relax and take a break from your busy lives, but there are other ways to take care of you.
You can start by saying no. As my curl sister, Breyasia, often says, “A lot of your stress is optional.” This means that we can often overload ourselves with too many time commitments and deadlines which add to our stress. So, in the name of mental health, start saying no to things that will cause you to lose sleep. Start saying no to things that you really don’t have time for. Start saying no to the things that you really just don’t want to do. One of the best ways to take care of you is to stop adding unnecessary weight to your shoulders.
Another way to take care of you is to become more aware of your feelings and the things that are affecting you subconsciously. The best way to do this is to talk to someone. Often times, we think something has to be wrong to see a therapist or professional, but that’s not the case. Having someone to talk to throughout the week can give you the necessary release of all of your pent up feelings and stress. Maybe you really don’t want to talk to someone or don’t have access to anyone. Journaling is a good way to release and really become aware of your feelings. I hope this serves as a reminder to prioritize your mental health over all of your other commitments. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Your Curl Sister,