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Harvard School of Public Health Students Host Painting Self-Care Night

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Roughly 30 students from the Harvard School of Public Health gathered at the Longwood campus for a night of painting in a bid to give students a mental health break Wednesday evening.

Sarah E. Zelasky, vice president of student life for the Harvard Chan Student Association, said she helped organize the event “hoping to not only have students have like a mental health break from their studies, but to also form some friendships while they’re here.”

“Our school focuses a lot on academia, and that we also are a community, and it’s really important for us to remember that and provide more opportunities for people to hang out and get together,” said Zelasky.

Sina Famenini, vice president of student advocacy for the HCSA, said he believes this event is especially important during the winter.

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“Winter is isolating and the days are short and people are inside all day, so if we have to be inside, we might as well bring people together for a fun event addressing mental health and loneliness through art,” Famenini said.

Caroline D. Keroack, a Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, guided the participants through painting the Boston skyline, but encouraged them to paint whatever they wished.

She said the event attempted to provide a welcome break from an otherwise stressful school environment.

“It’s very hard, in like an academic world, where there’s a right answer and a wrong answer, and sort of with painting there’s no right answer and wrong answer,” Keroack said. “I’m hoping that it gives them a break from whatever homework, classes, or exams. When I paint, afterwards I feel much lighter.”

The event was HCSA’s first planned mental health break for the student body at the School of Public Health.

Hui Fen “Rachel” Lim, who participated in the art self-care night, said that she “had never really assessed” available mental health services.

“I wish we had more events like this,” Lim said.

According to Zelasky, the event and the waitlist had been completely filled, showing the demand for events like these.

“It’s a good way to de-stress and kind of do something that you don’t normally get to do,” Archna A. Patel, who attended the event, said.

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