Students paint before exam week

Paint and Vibe students gather to relieve mental stress. Photo courtesy: Tenisha Ferron

Going to college can be a huge steppingstone for high school students, and the excitement of new experiences, relationships and independence can overcome the stress that comes with it.

Not much thought is given to class assignments, test taking and group projects which can make the whole college experience more stressful than joyful. Stress can affect a student’s mental health in so many ways, not to mention the demands of different student clubs and organizations.

So, what does FAMU do to help combat mental illness among students?

In an October 2021 study from Better You, about 63 percent of students in the U.S. have reported they are overwhelmed with large amounts of anxiety. 23 percent had to be diagnosed or treated by a professional. With the addition of the 2020 pandemic that is still among us, students have felt the stress in all ways emotionally, financially, physically and mentally. FAMU’s Student Government Association partnered Thursday with the Omega Psi Phi fraternity for “Paint and Vibes,” an event held in the Rattlers Den. The goal was to paint a portrait and take the time to relax and unwind. Artist Vardyce Gaines was on hand to help students de-stress with finals week approaching.

“I wanted to do something creative and get the right side of the brain going on a positive note rather than cramming their heads with exams,” Gaines said.

The name of the piece introduced to the group of students was called “My name is,” which is a side profile of a traced human head on canvas. The skull is filled with cards similar to the “Hello, my name is” name tags.

Student had the option to name the cards with factors that can either trigger stress or anxiety, or words that helped them focus properly. The head is surrounded with blue skies and white clouds to represent the environment one should surround themselves with when going through a tough time.

SGA Vice president Marcus Thomas says it was the perfect time to paint this type of theme right before students take their final exams.

“We know that the stress can spike when students see the 11:59 p.m. deadline, especially for the graduating seniors because this is their last assignment of the year, and you want to leave on a good foot,” he said.

Thomas says SGA is constantly looking for innovative ways to get students involved, and to take advantage of the resources the university offers its students.

Senior psychology student Genesis Miller says a friend invited her to the event, and she loved the concept. “I like to express myself through artistic mediums, and this concept was great. We got to explore what goes on in our minds and figure out what hinders us individually.” Miller says knowing how to help alleviate those stressors is important too.

To catch any upcoming events, you can follow FAMU SGA on Instagram.