Students invited to Black mental health and healing workshop

November 8, 2022
By: Allison Coppinger

The University will host a “Black + Mental Health + Matters,” a special interactive arts workshop for students meant to center Black voices that are often quieted, create a safe environment for people to communicate about their experiences, decrease stigma around mental health, and foster healing.

The workshop will be held in the Sheehan Hall Multipurpose Room on Tuesday, Nov. 15 from 11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m. It is open to all students to attend; centering Black voices.  Students can sign up to attend the event here or find the link to sign up on flyers and bulletin boards throughout the residence halls, and in the Sheehan dining hall. 

The event is co-sponsored by Counseling Services, ISA, Student Senate, Active Minds, Residence Life & Housing, and the Dean of Student Affairs Office and is being led by Art with Impact, a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote mental wellness by creating space for young people to learn and connect through art and media. It will feature interactive workshops led by Art with Impact’s Arielsela Holdbrook-Smith,  an interdisciplinary public health educator and artist, and include hands-on activities as well as poetry. 

“While WSU has a diverse demographic, it is a predominantly white institution. As with many higher education institutions, Black individuals can often go unseen, unheard, and they can feel they are not welcome or safe physically or emotionally,” said Worcester State counselor Lucia Alfaro, the university’s Multicultural Mental Health Outreach Specialist, who is coordinating the event. 

She said Black individuals continue to be directly impacted from historic systems of oppression that persist today.  “Black Mental Health Matters exist because disparities exist. There isn’t an abundance of spaces that center and uplift Black people,” Alfaro said.

Participants will receive a toolkit, and resources for both on and off campus. The tool kit will include self care suggestions, podcasts suggestions, accounts to follow on Instagram and a list of organizations with resources for Black students. Art With Impact reports that 95% of students who take part indicate that, “the workshop equipped them with tools to help them heal and thrive.”

Following the event participants who attended the Black + Mental Health + Matters event will be invited to a debrief  session to discuss their experience of the workshop. Details will be announced during the workshop. 

Alfaro said her plan is to continue offering similar programs on campus in the future that will center on BIPOC experiences, expressive arts, and mental health. 

Click here to learn more about Art with Impact and the Black + Mental Health + Matters workshop.


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