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Students practice roping a fake cow

A club borne out of the need to improve the mental health on campus is hosting another event this Friday to help students enjoy a bit of sunshine and treats before the start of finals.

The Marietta Mindset Student Mental Health Club will celebrate another Feel Good Friday, featuring Whit’s Frozen Custard and Lisa’s Sweet Stop Cupcake Truck on The Christy Mall from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Students will receive coupons to pick up a sweet treat, and employees can purchase items, as well. In addition to having treats, the event will also have an educational component that focuses on how different music affects mental health.

Marietta Mindset has hosted several Feel Good Fridays and Self-Care Sundays this semester. The College applied for grant funding through the state of Ohio/CARES Act to help reduce mental health issues and provide education to students that would help strengthen their mental health.

“We were successful in getting the grant, and one of the things that came out of the grant at the beginning was creating a student club focusing specifically on mental health that would be student-driven and student-run,” said Suzy Zumwalde, a mental health counselor in the Center for Health and Wellness and advisor to the club. “Obviously I’m involved but it’s really their ideas on what to do to help improve the overall mental health of the students on campus.”

In November, the College brought together a student group to address their needs. Zumwalde said about a dozen students, including Gabby Turner ’24 (Beavercreek Township, Ohio) and Colin Walters ’25 (Hilliard, Ohio), have been very active in getting the club started.

"When I first started my efforts to improve mental health early last semester, I noticed a common trend among several of the adults on campus: that students needed to cut their extracurricular activities and learn techniques to better their mental health," Turner said. Though some of the feedback she initially received alluded to a notion that taking mental health breaks wouldn't prepare students for life after college, Turner continued to "brainstorm ideas that not only promote positive mental health but (also) destigmatize" the need for improved mental health practices.

After not making headway with other groups on campus, Turner and Walters decided to go a different route.

“Over winter break we created Marietta Mindset, with Gabby as president and me as vice president,” Walters said. “We were approached by the Center for Health and Wellness about a COVID-19 relief grant available to clubs like ours whose goal is to improve mental health and well-being ... given the effects that the pandemic had on higher education. We drafted an application and laid out a plan that kept the best interests of the school and the student body in mind and heard back in February. Since then, we have planned out and hosted a number of campus events and programs. The majority of which included outdoor involvement and fun activities such as bringing food trucks onto campus, handing out programs and treats, setting up weekly support groups, etc.”

By March, the first Feel Good Friday was celebrated on campus. The grant funding allows for the group to do something positive for the students.

“We had Kona Ice come for the first one, which was back at the end of March. Then we had one during the lunch hour where we had the food trucks on The Mall,” Zumwalde said. “… And we have another one coming up this Friday — right before finals. All of the students will be able to have a sweet treat and hopefully have a little time to relax in between all of the stress going on with this week and next week.”

Walters said it is important for clubs like Marietta Mindset to exist because they help combat the stresses that students endure throughout their four-plus years.

“Oftentimes we don’t have the available resources or funding to deal and/or cope with academic stress, family loss, depression, burnout, and so many more,” Walters said. “Given that Marietta College is such a small, close-knit community it is important for us to be involved around campus. Marietta Mindset’s goal is to boost our sense of belonging as well as improve the mental health of campus, raise awareness about the symptoms of mental illness, and inform us as to the best ways to combat things like depression, anxiety, stress, etc.”

On Sunday, April 24th, a group of about 40 students went to Soul Pastures Farm on Ohio 550 to spend time with farm animals, be in nature, and even enjoy yoga with baby goats. Another Self-Care Sunday — which is aimed at promoting care and reducing stress — involved students going to Rockstar Wellness on Second Street to take classes, as well as ride on bikes rented from the Marietta Adventure Company.

“With COVID, they haven’t been able to get out and socialize with each other, they lost out on that connectivity that, prior to COVID, a lot of college students benefitted from,” Zumwalde said. “There are studies that show the benefits of being outside and how just being outside, getting fresh air, and interacting with people has a huge, positive effect on your mental health. So having them take a break from their classes, a break from their studying, a break from everything that goes along with being here, and just relaxing is going to help students with their mental health.”

Feel Good Friday events are in locations that students typically pass by — whether they are heading to class or the dining hall. The locations are chosen so students don’t have to plan to stop by. Self-Care Sundays, which are typically off campus, are events where students are encouraged to register.

“It’s great to see our students out there, interacting and visiting with each other, saying ‘Hi’ to people who are just passing by — the social interactions we’ve missed out on for two years — and seeing how these interactions have positive effects on our mental health,” Zumwalde said. “My hope moving forward is to start working with other clubs, organizations, even faculty and staff groups, so this can be an entire campus effort. … Wouldn’t it be great if we could all work together and make every Friday a Feel Good Friday at Marietta College?”