Nicole Pechacek | Staff Writer
In hopes to give students a day not only to relax but focus on their mental health, the Student Government Association (SGA) helped implement scheduled Wellness Days. These days will allow students to catch a break from their busy day-to-day learning.
Many students have probably wondered how such a program came to pass.
To help give a better understanding as to how things work within SGA, both the President, Austin Sams, and the Vice President, Kimberlee-Mykel Thompson, agreed to discuss both the implementation of mental health days and give an inside look at how ideas and programs are brought up to the administration.
Inspiration for the wellness days initiative came from a fellow HBCU, according to SGA Vice President Thompson.
“One of the SGA senators had seen it at North Carolina A&T, and she brought it up and thought it would be a good idea. From there, I took it and pitched the idea to Dr. Harvey,” she explained.
While SGA has been a large part of student advocacy at Hampton, many students aren’t very aware of its inner workings, especially how ideas become full-fledged programs.
“For this specific program, we had administrative meetings where the class officers have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Harvey and Dr. Inman,” Thompson said. “Oftentimes, these meetings are ways for them to update us, and we have a brief amount of time to let them know what’s going on in our classes in this virtual climate. There, we have the opportunity to present ideas, critiques, anything of the sort to help them run the university better, so that’s where wellness days were brought up.”
With the pandemic still going on and people staying indoors, mental health has been a consistent issue amongst students. When asked how these days would fix this issue, Thompson explained how they can help students relieve stress and take needed breaks.
“A lot of students complained to us that in the first semester, we had this 15-week straight semester where we had almost no breaks, and it just felt exhausting,” she shared. “Hopefully, especially in addition to spring break this semester, we’ll be able to get a break and not feel like we go to the same computer every day.”
While SGA has managed to work despite the pandemic, things have been very different for the organization. SGA President Austin Sams said social media was a big reason as to how they have been so successful.
“We’ve been fortunate in my opinion, to be able to be connected and meet students where they are and offer any support we can virtually,” he shared.
With the successful implementation of wellness days, SGA plans to add more mental health initiatives in the future.
“Ingraining the mental health days into the university’s calendar was a big step in not only acknowledging the importance of mental health but making it a part of our actual practices of the university,” said SGA President Sams. “We’re also pushing to do mental health initiatives and partnering with different organizations either on-campus or off-campus to drive the whole mental health awareness and importance home for students, not just virtually but even when they come back on campus.”
SGA President Sams also confirmed there will be another virtual town hall and professional development programming in the coming semester.
Wellness days will hopefully give students time to evaluate and take care of themselves during this tumultuous time. With more programs incoming, mental health awareness at Hampton is bound to increase.