In September 2015, The Wellness Project committee invited all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students and student groups to apply for up to $1,000 in funding for programs or activities focused on any of the following areas of wellness: emotional, physical, social, intellectual, professional, and spiritual. The committee extends its thanks to the many students and student groups who submitted applications. The following projects have been awarded grants from The Wellness Project:
Alexander Technique Workshops
Meera Gudipati, School of Music
This project will support ten Alexander Technique workshops, led by a certified Alexander Technique teacher, to help music students cope with the demands of practicing and rehearsing for long hours every day. The workshops will focus on posture, body movement, and ergonomic music playing. This instruction will equip students with techniques to ensure that the demands they place on the physical body are not negatively impacting their physical health and ability to perform.
Bonsai Tree Workshops
Vivek Vishwanath, Yale College
Students will offer small workshops for their peers to learn about the cultivation of Bonsai Trees. Student participants will receive a bonsai tree and will be taught the art and cultivation of the “tree of life.” The workshops will encourage students to take a break from their schedules and focus energies on simple but mindful tasks that provide opportunities for relaxation, creativity, reflection, and spiritual well-being.
DeStress Fest on the Hill
The Facilities and Healthcare Committee (FHC), Graduate Student Assembly
The Graduate Student Assembly’s Facilities and Healthcare Committee will plan a “stress-relief festival” for graduate students featuring therapy dogs, sand art, a petting zoo, stress ball making, and food. Though there are similar events on campus such as “Stress Down Day,” many students who work in labs are not able to attend them. By hosting the event in a more convenient location and by working directly with Principle Investigators and Directors of Graduate Studies, the committee is making the event accessible to all students, especially those who work on Science Hill.
The Feminist Adventure Club
Megan Zoe Billman, Yale School of Art
The Feminist Adventure Club will host monthly outings to New Haven and other local outdoor activity sites. Participants will enjoy nature walks while discussing and exploring feminist philosophies, theories, and quotations. The idea for The Feminist Adventure Club stems from the concept of “Philosophy Walks” first conceived at the School of Making Thinking by Aaron Finbloom.
Gong Meditation Concert
Janine Stockford, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
The Conduit Ensemble, a Hartford-based gong meditation ensemble, will perform for students at Yale. Through the use of gongs and singing bowls, the ensemble creates a relaxation experience, demonstrating “the extent to which sound can work to calm and comfort the body and mind.” To experience this unique method of relaxation, students only have to “show up, lay down on a yoga mat, and drift away” as the ensemble induces relaxation and restoration through song.
GSA Mental Health Focus Group Project
Graduate Student Assembly (GSA)
The Graduate Student Assembly will implement a Mental Health Focus Group Project in order to identify solutions to graduate student mental health issues. According to the GSA, “the purpose of the GSA Mental Health Focus Group Project is to 1) explore mental health and wellness issues among Yale PhD students through focus groups, 2) identify key areas of poor mental health and wellness within each graduate school division (humanities, social science and natural science), and 3) develop strategies for improvement of mental health and wellness using a variety of campus resources (GSA, Administration, Yale Health and Student Wellness).” Phase 1 of this project will include six focus groups to explore common sources of stress, anxiety, and depression unique to graduate students. Phase 2 will include the creation of a comprehensive mental health and wellness survey for distribution to the graduate student community. Information from these focus groups and the survey will be used to draft a report, create and plan activities and programs to address PhD student-specific concerns, and offer recommendations to the administration. Funds from The Wellness Project will be used to implement and host the focus groups around campus.
Mindfulness on the Medical Campus
Rahil Rojiani, Yale School of Medicine
In order to educate more students about the benefits of mindfulness and its relation to the field of medicine, students will bring Dr. Judson Brewer to lead a talk and meditation session at the medical school. Dr. Brewer is a Yale-trained addiction psychiatrist and current Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Worcester Medical School. By bringing him to campus, students hope to educate their peers about the benefits of mindfulness, particularly within the medical field. With The Wellness Project funding, the students also plan to create a reflection room in the library to provide a designated quiet space where medical students can reflect, relax, and meditate.
Mind Matters Event with Kay Redfield Jamison
Mind Matters, an undergraduate student organization, will bring Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison to campus to deliver a talk about the difficulties of dealing with mental illness in college. Dr. Jamison is a respected psychiatrist and expert on mood disorders at Johns Hopkins University. She is also the author of several critically acclaimed books, including “An Unquiet Mind,” a memoir that chronicles her struggle with bipolar disorder and suicidal thoughts.
Monthly Power Hour, BCAY
Alero Egbe, Yale College
Members of BCAY will host monthly power hours ”designed to improve spiritual and emotional wellness on campus.” Each monthly event will include icebreakers, followed by spiritual testimonies and personal spiritual life updates. Open to all regardless of religious affiliation or identity, these events will encourage one-on-one spiritual interaction and celebration in prayer and song.
Peer Conversation Series
Ama Francis, Amit Jain, and Alexandra Francis; Yale Law School
Students at Yale Law School will host a 3-part, peer-facilitated conversation series that provides opportunities for law students to discuss: 1) “their deeper purpose as law students and individuals;” 2) “their contribution to shared community values and character;” and 3) “the alignment of their professional goals with core values.” The conversation groups seek to “emphasize character development…and build a supportive and value-based culture.” The group hopes to encourage a culture of professional responsibility and ethical conduct among their peers. Funding from The Wellness Project will support the hosting of these events.
Walden Peer Counseling Publicity Team
Walden Peer Counseling, Yale College
Walden Peer Counseling aims to improve its campus visibility and outreach by producing “casual conversation” events on Cross Campus, expanding its online presence, and creating social campaigns to destigmatize mental health. The group intends to increase the number of students who know about and access Walden’s services and to instill Walden’s principles of active listening and non-judgmental, non-directive attitudes on campus.
Zen Meditation at SOM
Emina Bajra, School of Management
Emina will host meditation practice sessions at SOM to help peers be mindful and effective business leaders and to help them discover new ways of reducing stress in a demanding environment. Funding support will be used to create a meditation space to host these sessions.