ASSU launches emotional wellness campaign

April 24, 2014, 1:19 a.m.

The ASSU launched a “Feel the Rainbow” campaign earlier this week, in an effort to raise awareness about emotional well-being among students at Stanford.

The campaign, which started on Monday and which will continue through Friday, features a small activity booth in White Plaza that focuses on a different emotion every day.

According to Ellora Israni ’14, a member of the ASSU Executive Cabinet, she and fellow Cabinet member Nina Church ’16 started the project towards the beginning of the academic year out of their own interest.

“We were basically given the freedom to pick an issue on campus that we cared about, and we both wanted to address the idea of emotional well-being on campus,” Israni said. “Emotional well-being came up a lot on campus, like in the duck syndrome, so we wanted to do something about it.”

Israni described the duck syndrome as a tendency that Stanford students have to repress emotion and not give themselves the time to address the sentiments that they are feeling.

“I think that the basis of it all is that we’re busy and that we’re doing a million things and we’re happy doing a million things, looking like we’re doing great all the time,” Israni said. “If we actually give ourselves time to spend on how we’re feeling, we’ll be better off in the long run.”

To address the issue, Israni and Church sought to provide students with an emotional outlet. They formed a team of students from various backgrounds in order to help them decide the content for the week, structuring it in such a way that every day featured a different emotion.

Selina Her ’17, part of the team, explained that the concept of the rainbow represented the spectrum of emotions that the campaign encourages students to explore within themselves.

“We wanted to emphasize the idea that it’s normal to feel a range of emotions, and it’s okay to express them if you’re comfortable with expressing them,” Her said.

The activities are designed to be low-commitment and require little time.

“For example: Monday was anger, and we had bubble wrap for people to come by and pop,” Israni explained. “Thursday is gratitude and we’re having people decorate cookies and give it someone that they are grateful for. These are things you can do as you’re passing through, just to have it as a reminder to stop and think and address your emotions.”

Beyond receiving funding from ASSU Executives Dan Ashton ’14 and Billy Gallagher ’14, Israni noted the campaign also received support from many different campus organizations, including the, the Bridge Peer Counseling Center, Vaden Health Center and the Happiness Collective.

In addition to the week of activities, the campaign will conclude with public visual art, where students will be invited to help create a collage of “hopes” or “wishes,” according to Her.

“We were thinking of a cumulative idea that could wrap up the week’s activities,” she said. “So we decided that hope was a good emotion to finish up with, and the [visual art] will make a nice public display. Different people are going to be contributing, and it’ll be another outlet for emotional wellbeing.”

The campaign’s team expressed interest in continuing the initiative in the future and supporting a healthier cycle of mental health.

“We want to take what we’re doing and package that, have it be something that the incoming freshman class gets when they arrive to campus,” Israni said. “Ultimately what we’re trying to do is not small activities, but raise awareness around emotional well-being and expression. If we can do that now, then we have that in the front of minds of freshmen coming in next fall.”


Contact Catherine Zaw at czaw13 ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.

Catherine Zaw was formerly the Managing Editor of News for Vol. 245 and Vol. 246. To contact her, please email [email protected].

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