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School of Pharmacy Self-Care Week aimed to support student mental health

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Hallie Rouse and Katelyn Byrd, co-chairs of Operation of Self Care, pose together for a photo. Photo Courtesy of CAPS.

The Carolina Association of Pharmacy Students ended its week-long self-care initiative on Thursday with spikeball, card games and puppies on the lawn in front of Kerr Hall. 

The group hosted a variety of events from Monday to Thursday as part of its Self-Care Week, helping students focus on their well-being around the time of World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10. The initiative was part of Operation Self-Care, one of the association's projects to support student pharmacists.

Hallie Rouse, co-chair of Operation Self-Care and a student pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Eshelman School of Pharmacy, said a lot of individuals going into medical careers are experiencing provider burnout, which affects healthcare quality. 

“You can’t help your patients unless you're helping yourself first,” said Rouse.

The Carolina Association of Pharmacy Students began its initiative on Monday by putting handouts and stuffed animals in the newly established wellness room on the school's third floor, encouraging students to stop by and experience the quiet, peaceful environment. 

The association partnered with the Eshelman School of Pharmacy Student Senate to sponsor the week and reintroduce the wellness room. The room is an open space for students to use books, blankets, fidget toys and bean bags to relax throughout the day. 

The festivities continued through the week with an outdoor walk, a social media campaign and free snacks. 

Pharmacy student Emily Grooms said it can be really hard to seek out help, especially as graduate students in a rigorous program. 

Pharmacy students experience various academic stressors, including the competitive nature of UNC medical programs and practicing patient care.

According to co-chairs Rouse and Katelyn Byrd, Operation Self-Care allows students to get a break from those stressors through activities like campus walks, board games and peer discussions. They hold multiple weekly events for all students. For example, CAPS in the Courtyard is a monthly event for leaders and co-chairs to talk over activities and snacks. 

Byrd said it would be helpful if the University coordinated wellness days with wellness activities, similar to those that the association had during its self-care week. 

“Stick with people that support you supporting yourself,” Byrd said. 

"There has been a concerted effort over the past few years to help increase awareness of mental health supports around campus," Avery Cook, director of Counseling and Psychological Services, said in an email statement. Cook said campus resources like the Heels Care Network have been helpful in this effort, and that students have responded positively to new initiatives and resources. 

“I think that the campus is going in the right direction,” said Byrd. 

In the email statement, Cook said students have worked hard to combat stigma surrounding mental health by talking about it more openly, getting support for themselves and encouraging their friends and peers to get support.

“Having these organized events to really promote mental health and be around other people who want to do that has been really great,” Grooms said.

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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