Since the start of the new academic year, McMaster students have had a new place on campus to relax.

The Student Wellness Education Lower Lounge initiative that has started this school year, is a lounge space dedicated to students. The lounge space offers students counseling on mental and general wellness topics in addition to providing them with a space to relax, take a break and start a conversation with someone.

A schedule is followed every week that is motivated by a theme. The week of Oct. 7, for example, will be “Mental Awareness ” week that will color the activities that take place from Monday to Friday.

“The topics for some of the events depend on what’s happening in the student life-cycle during that week or what the students are generally interested in,” said Pearl Mendonca, Wellness Education Coordinator at the Student Wellness Center.

Every Monday is termed as “Mindfulness Monday” when students are taught about relaxation and meditation techniques and take a break during their day. Tuesdays are ‘Movie Tuesdays’ where a movie best suited to go with the weekly theme is shown. Wednesdays are ‘Wellness Wednesday’, where the topic changes every week; this week’s topic was ”Fitness under a budget”.  Thursdays are ‘Thirst-tea Thursdays’ where a guest speaker is brought in during the morning and tea is served all day. Fridays are ‘Free-Fruit Fridays’ where bowlfuls of different fruits are supplied to promote students to choose healthier alternatives.

The SWELL initiative is a partnership between McMaster Student Affairs and the McMaster Students Union.

“This lounge has been a number of years in the making. The idea was to have a lounge space for students to come, but also have resources that they needed. They could also chat with people,“ said Mendonca.

In addition to the above facilities, the space holds offices for the Student Wellness Center, as well as a microwave for students to heat their lunches.

The initiative has about 40 volunteers in addition to its two organizers.

The lounge is located in the basement of the Student Center, opposite the CFMU radio station office. It is open to all students, from Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“Everyone interacts about mental health in different ways,” said Mendonca.

“People’s experiences are very valuable, so it’s necessary to have different spaces where students can speak about their mental awareness.“

Photo credit: Eliza Pope / Assistant Photo Editor 

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