Mental health resources and more to be featured at free symposium


The Health and Wellness Symposium will feature breakout sessions that cover a variety of mental health topics. Graphic designed by Annie Gulick.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to learn about mental health resources at a free symposium in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union on Feb. 3.

The Health and Wellness Symposium will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an optional training opportunity from 10 to 11:30 a.m. People who are unable to attend the full day are encouraged to come and go as their schedule allows.

The goal of the symposium is to inform the campus population regarding mental health. At the event, participants will learn about the work Student Wellness staff continue to implement toward mental health and the resources they provide.

“There’s a lot of resources at Iowa State that is underutilized by students, and I think it’s mostly because they just don’t know that they’re there,” said Ashely Pick, associate director of clinical services at Thielen.

The main portion of the event will feature breakout sessions centered around a variety of topics, including self-care, mindfulness at work and sexual health. Each session will correspond to one of four learning tracks for attendees to choose from: student well-being, employee well-being, supporting others and personal well-being.

“We have so many different tracks that we can meet so many different people where they’re coming from,” Pick said. “We have something for everyone.”

Participants can select two breakout sessions to participate in. The sessions are intended to be interactive to encourage people to think and talk with one another about each topic.

“We want to provide a platform where we can stay engaged with each other, network, and share what’s working [and] what’s not,” said Kristen Clark, university public health coordinator.

The symposium will also offer an optional training session prior to the event’s official kick-off. This will feature Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) Training and Green Dot training. QPR training is a resource that teaches people about suicide prevention, and Green Dot is a program that provides people with strategies to help prevent power-based personal violence.

During the event, Dr. Raphael Florestal-Kevelier, the event’s keynote speaker, will discuss the importance of prioritizing well-being on college campuses.

This is the first time the symposium has been hosted, but the Student Wellness staff hope to make it an annual event.

“[Mental health] is kind of a huge topic right now,” Pick said. “A lot of people are looking at their health and wellness, their mental health, and trying to get that kind of work-life balance, school-life balance.”

The symposium was originally planned to debut last year but was pushed back due to COVID-19 concerns. These worries did not hold the symposium back this year, but the psychological impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are still fresh in many people’s minds, according to Clark and Pick.

“The COVID pandemic really brought to light just the importance of health and well-being, but also how much work we have to do as a society as a whole,” Clark said.

Participants are encouraged to register ahead of the event to pre-select their breakout sessions and receive a free lunch. Walk-ins are welcome but will not receive any food and may not have a guaranteed spot in the breakout sessions of their choice.

Those who can only attend one breakout session are still invited to register ahead of time to reserve their spot.

“[The symposium] provides an entire day in a location where we can all get together and really put health and wellbeing at the front of our minds,” Clark said.

A full schedule of the symposium and additional information can be found on the Student Health and Wellness website.