By Caterina Amaral
Ryerson brought painting, drawing, sculpting and colouring into one room as part of Mental Well Being Week.
Students for Mental Awareness, Support, and Health (SMASH) is a student-run organization that encourages everyone to slow down by learning how live a more balanced lifestyle. Mental Well Being Week was launched as a series of events on campus that were intended to create time and space to address mental needs.
On Nov. 12, SMASH invited the Ryerson community to their set-up art space, Art Attack!, in the Sally Horsfall Eaton building. They encouraged students to tap into their creative outlets and let go of any built-up stress.
Rebecca Bentolia, a first-year photography student, said that her transition to university was stressful as she struggled to find where she fit in and how to deal with the workload. By attending the art session, she was able to make some time for herself.
“It’s something I like to do when I’m taking a break from reality,” Bentolila said.
For Natasha Serio, a first-year photography student, it was also an opportunity for her to take a break from the on-going class work.
“I think student stress just comes from everything, being in school is so demanding [since] it’s assignment after assignment, deadline after deadline,” said Serio. “While you’re working on one thing, you’re thinking about what’s next — there’s never really a break.”
Serio said that her parents are expecting her to do well in school and that she is constantly worrying about her future. In an art-based industry like photography, there’s a lot of pressure. Taking a step back to paint was necessary for her to cope with her worries.
“It was a nice environment to be in, everyone was aware of everything going on with school but still made a conscious decision to just put away a couple of hours to sit down and have mindless fun,” Serio said. “The people are what made it fun [and] the painting opportunity was a bonus.”
SMASH was around for less than a year when they were approached by the Ryerson Health Promotion Department to get involved and produce activities for students during Mental Well-Being Week.
Naiyelli Romero, a first-year film student, was invited by her friend to join the Art Attack! session. She said that students try too hard to be perfect by trying to impress professors and their peers. For her, taking a break to do some art was a mindless activity but she said she felt better about herself.
“It’s great to know you can’t draw and that’s okay,” Romero said.