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Independence, gamedays, meeting new people and just living the college life are all aspects of a student's four-year journey that makes it an enjoyable experience. However, many people struggle with the toll that being a student takes on your mental health and the stress that an academic and social workload can bring.

Pop-In Peer Listening Sessions is a weekly campus outreach program run by Big Red Resilience & Well-Being created to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and personal well-being.

“This is another way to help students understand that it is ok to ask for help,” said Constance Boehm, Director of Student Resilience. “Peer-based support is so important on college campuses.”

Peer listening events take place on Wednesdays and Fridays at several locations on campus including the College of Education and Human Sciences, the Lied Center for Performing Acts, the Raikes School and more.

“Most of these locations were chosen because they were identified in a survey of UNL students as the colleges where students felt the most isolated and in need of emotional support,” said Emma Farson, UNL Well-being Ambassador, student intern and manager of peer listening events.

Each pop-in session is focused on a de-stressing activity such as making zen gardens, meditation, gratitude journaling and even petting therapy dogs.

The most recent session at the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Arts on Friday centered around zine making, a miniature pamphlet on which participants expressed themselves and their interests.

Last week’s event had low attendance, and with this one specifically being located on the edge of campus, it did not pick up a lot of student traffic. However, for those that did show up, the session was a nice change of pace. 

“I think it’s great. I think they could’ve done a better job spreading the word definitely,” said Ebben Blake, a senior emerging media arts major who took part in the session. “I think a zine is a lot of time and energy to put into something, but I guess that’s kind of the point, to take time for yourself and relax.”

The sessions are staffed by Well-being Ambassadors who are there to listen and support students who need help with their personal well-being, according to Farson.

“I would encourage all UNL students, undergraduate and graduate, to drop by these events and learn what we have to offer,” Farson said. “There is something for everyone.”

Peer listening sessions are new to UNL this fall, and they’re something Farson hopes stick around.

“I don’t see these events going away anytime soon,” Farson said. “I think the more we promote these events, connect with students during these events and work to decrease the stigma, the more prominent the events will be on campus.”

More information on upcoming peer listening sessions can be found on the Nebraska Today events calendar

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