When I was a college student back in the early 1980’s we had a rather unflattering pre-exam period tradition. We all gathered on the front lawn of the school just as night fell and engaged in what is best described as a group-wail. Something like a cross between a primal scream and what I imagine the sound of sick cows might be. It wasn’t a glorious sound. Not at all. But sounding glorious wasn’t the point. It was about two things: relieving stress by admitting you had it, and creating solidarity by doing it together.
I was very heartened to learn that many decades later, mental health organizations are taking up the charge of addressing the very serious mental health challenges of college students today put at higher risk by the additional pressure of exams, by making the act of lowering stress a national event. So this week, as students’ stress levels are rising in anticipation of exams, the 7th Annual National Stress Øut Day will take place April 15-21st, 2012 at hundreds of schools across the country. The collaboration of a student run organization, Active Minds, and the Anxiety Disorder Association of America, with support from OCD Chicago and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline thousands of students will participate in such activities as: water balloon fights, pie-ing professors (with their blessing), free-form painting, do it yourself ice-cream sundaes, movie screenings aimed at a lighter look at mental health such as What About Bob, and, As Good As It Gets and yes, a scream-fest.
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