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The University of Alberta (UAlberta) has opened its first Calm Room, a space inside the campus where students can relax.
The Calm Room has a quiet atmosphere and dim lighting that are conducive to relieving mental health concerns like stress and anxiety. The space also offers recreational activities, including virtual reality games and adult coloring books, which students can enjoy for free. Since its launch in April, over a hundred students have visited the Calm Room to seek refuge from their daily responsibilities.
Currently, the university’s occupational therapy students are supervising the Calm Room and monitoring its effectiveness. According to one student, being in the room allows her to just be herself without feeling pressured about meeting people’s expectations.
Shaniff Esmail, a professor of UAlberta’s Department of Occupational Therapy, is the man behind the Calm Room. He came up with the idea after running into a student who was experiencing an anxiety attack and had nowhere to go. Following the encounter, he thinks that students need an area that can give them some breathing space.
Professor Esmail also wants to help students in taking responsibility for their mental health. He believes that students can deal with their mental health issues at their own pace by spending time in the Calm Room.
In the future, the Calm Room team plans to organize monthly wellness events. If the Calm Room proves to be successful, the team hopes to open two more similar rooms inside the campus using a $5,000-grant from the university’s Heroes for Health Challenge.