Students stomp out mental illness stigmas with bubble wrap

Mental Wellness Week included Stomp the Stigma. The bubble wrapped quad allowed students to release stress and stomp stigmas of mental illnesses. (Hannah Greer | Collegian Media Group)

The crisp air of the Quad was stirred by the sound of popping as students stomped across bubble wrap on their way to classes.

The Student Union Program Council, Counseling Services and Peer Advocates for Mental Wellness teamed up for Stomp the Stigma on Thursday. Students had the chance to pop therapeutic bubbles that lined the Quad on their way to class.

Stop the Stigma focuses on preconceived beliefs about people with mental illness. These mental health stigmas are often wrong and damaging to people with mental illnesses. Students could stomp out these stigmas and reduce stress at the same time through bubble wrap.

“It helps get the stress out and make your day brighter,” said Brooke Riedy, junior in kinesiology.

Kathleen M. Dillon, psychology professor emerita at Western New England College, conducted a study that found a group of undergraduate students who popped bubble wrap reported higher levels of calmness and alertness than those who didn’t get to pop bubble wrap.

Dillon said the irresistible desire to pop bubble wrap is a natural human response to stress and it is fun. The nervous motion releases muscle tension, which reduces stress.

To all who found popping bubble wrap satisfying and stress relieving, this was a small gift from the the organizations sponsoring the event to help raise awareness about students’ mental wellness. The bubble wrapped stretched across all the paths of Quad for students to jump, stomp or ride on.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Olivia Fugarino, junior in kinesiology, said after jumping into the air and landing on the bubble wrap. “It … made my day. It definitely brightened my mood.”