Duck Nest Hosts Art Exhibit for Mental Health Awareness Month | Arts & Culture
In the spring of 2021, an estimated 67% of the UO student body “exhibited symptoms of at least one significant mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, or mental disorders. food”, according toOU Consulting Services. Student mental health is a pressing issue across the country today, especially as campus communities continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
As this May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, the University of Oregon is hosting events for students, aimed at destigmatizing mental health issues and sparking much-needed conversations.
On May 24, UO’s Duck Nest Wellness Center will host the annual Mental Health Art Exhibit. This year’s theme is “Healing with Nature and Being Outdoors,” focusing on students’ interpretations through various artistic styles, ranging from poetry to painting.
The Duck Nest also encouraged students to submit virtual art forms to accommodate any students who wanted to share, from movies to original recorded songs. Blake Nelson, Peer Wellness Coordinator at Duck Nest, further discussed the priority given to accessibility when planning the event.
“We wanted to be aware that everyone’s pace when it comes to reacclimating on campus is going to be very different,” Nelson said. “It was very important for us to be able to give everyone, including those who may not have the emotional energy, the opportunity to do an art exhibition in person.”
As the chaos of college life begins to escalate toward the end of the spring term, it’s important that students at OU have a safe space to express their feelings about mental health.
“Any art or discussion about mental health in general is very important because it allows people who may not have the bandwidth to really talk about it or start exploring that aspect of themselves knowing that it’s allowed, valid, and accepted for them to do it, and that it feels different for everyone else,” Nelson said.
Peer Wellness Coordinator Ava Hearn said it’s harder for students to focus on or maintain their mental health because the college environment is rooted in a fast-paced”grind culture.”
This “grind culture” mindset centers one’s job or career on self-care and one’s physical and mental health, and that’s not healthy.
“I think there has been more of a movement recently to discuss mental health on college campuses. But I think as we push this culture of the grind, we also need to talk about mental health, because that’s also so relevant to academic success,” Hearn said. “We’re here to get people to slow down and think about their well-being as much as they think about all the other things going on in their lives.”
The Mental Health Art Exhibit will take place from 1-3 p.m. May 24 in the Lease Crutcher Lewis Room at the Erb Memorial Union and is free to attendees. Hearn added that they plan to feature some of the art on Instagram Duck Nest for those who can’t attend and possibly hang some of the art at the UO Advice Center.
“As a university community, I feel like our power when it comes to mental health is being able to support each other when we can’t necessarily support ourselves,” Nelson said. “I really love that aspect of being able to help uplift other people and being able to help move the conversation forward in a productive way.”
To find more information about the Mental Health Art Exhibit and the resources provided by the duck nestcheck out their Instagram @uo_ducknest, or the location of the duck’s nest in the Erb Memorial Union.