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CAPS launches new Wellness Life Hacks workshops

Four-part series addresses issues affecting Brown students’ mental health, encourages mindfulness

By
Staff Writer
Sunday, January 28, 2018

Counseling and Psychological Services will offer four new workshops through their new project, called Wellness Life Hacks this semester. The program — which will begin on Jan. 30 and end on May 1 — is open to all students and covers a variety of issues affecting students at Brown, such as sleep deprivation and burnout prevention. Created by Dr. Erin Lane-Aaronian, the outreach coordinator for CAPS, each workshop contained in the series will be offered multiple times in the semester.
Discussions to create the program started during the Fall 2017 semester, Lane-Aaronian said.
One workshop in the series, titled “How Mindfulness Works,” will be led by CAPS Mental Health Counselor and Psychotherapist Bita Shooshani. Through this workshop, Shooshani hopes students can “learn to be more intentional about how (they) use (their) time,” she wrote in an email to The Herald.
“Brown students are very busy and our culture in general promotes a value of not slowing down and making time for ourselves and our relationships,” Shooshani wrote. By practicing mindfulness, students can regain control of their lives, she added.
“With a regular practice of mindfulness, we tend to become less reactive to our environmental stressors,” she wrote.
Each workshop will be conducted by a different clinical member of CAPS, Lane-Aaronian said. While the four workshops will vary slightly in presentation, she added that “the themes running through them connect and expand so we’re not replicating but supporting the overall ideas.”
The workshops included in the program will “play off of each other and have kind of an overlapping set of content,” said Dr. Will Meek, director of CAPS.
Students participating in the workshops will also receive a small booklet for note-taking, Lane-Aaronian said.
“We’re hoping students will answer some questions about their own experiences through some journaling activities and then through discussion,” she added.
CAPS identified the need for this program after receiving feedback from students currently under CAPS care and conducting intensive student outreach, Lane-Aaronian said. “There’s a lot of folks at Brown that … struggle with sleep (and) struggle with managing their mood. We’ve heard these things so much that we really wanted to create something … proactive” to offer a helpful resource for students, Meek said.
Wellness Life Hacks isn’t the first workshop series that Lane-Aaronian has coordinated for CAPS. In June 2015, she worked with CAPS clinician Jorge Vargas to structure the “Question, Persuade, Refer” program, a series intended to train students, faculty, staff and administrators in early suicide intervention techniques, Lane-Aaronian wrote in an email to The Herald.
To this day “close to 900 members of the Brown community have been trained in QPR,” Lane-Aaronian wrote.
CAPS also plans to create a program covering Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in the future, she said.
Meek added that CAPS continually listens to departmental feedback in order to gauge student needs. “What we’re constantly trying to do with our group programming and these workshops is figure out … what students want, what format they want it in and what time,” he said.
“We want them to be influenced by ideas that are going to help them thrive — not just from an academic perspective,” Lane-Aaronian said.