The CUW School of Pharmacy unveils the newest addition to the campus mental health legacy of Evelyn Hutchins.
“Evelyn’s Corner” in the Pharmacy Building is new in the sense that it opened for use just yesterday. But it also represents something that’s getting to be quite familiar—and very comfortable—around the CUW campus. It’s the latest iteration and expansion CUW’s “Evelyn’s Place,” the first SMART laboratory in the state of Wisconsin.
SMART stand for “Stress Management And Resilience Training,” an approach to helping students and others manage their own mental health a little more easily. The original Evelyn’s Place, named in honor of beloved longtime Concordia employee Evelyn Hutchins, opened in 2019. Since then, smaller SMART spaces, dubbed Evelyn’s Corners, have opened in various spots around campus.
And now the School of Pharmacy has one to call its own.
Room to Relax
The result of work by the School of Pharmacy’s Student Mental Health Work Group, the newest Evelyn’s Corner, located in PH129) is made possible by a grant from the Dohmen Foundation. The space will exclusively serve students, faculty, and staff at the School of Pharmacy, a need identified by the student group.
“Given our students’ busy schedules, it was really difficult for them to find time to access the Evelyn’s Corners that are located in other parts of the university,” explained Sandy Slater, associate professor in the department of Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences, who was instrumental in obtaining the grant. “It was something the group identified as a need, to make a space like this more accessible to Pharmacy students.”
It’s an idea that will help put good mental health policy into action, said Beth DeJongh, associate professor of pharmacy practice.
“Considering how demanding this program is, this space will be of great benefit for the School of Pharmacy,” she said. “Now, rather than just talking to students about the importance of mental health, we have a dedicated space to help them maintain it.”
Anchored by two large massage-chair recliners, the space also features soft lighting, a peaceful 2nd-floor view, a collection of inspirational reading materials, and various other items such as shoulder massagers, yoga mats, foam rollers, and worry stones. “Pray Big, Worry Small,” reads one small, but conspicuous sign, reflecting the role of faith in maintaining good mental health.
“Users can even learn to use biomedical feedback technology to track their heart rate and different breathing techniques to calm their heartbeat, decrease stress levels, and increase resilience,” DeJongh said.
“It’s a really great space and I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Jen Jeffers, a School of Pharmacy administrative assistant who helped furnish the room. “Whether you have five minutes, or you have 20 minutes, you can come in and breathe, or just be. Or read something fun and inspiring, and refocus on what’s really important.”
How we approach mental health has come a long way, Jeffers explained, recalling a close friend who attempted suicide when she was in high school. “Luckily, my friend survived, but it threw me for a loop, because we really didn’t understand how many problems she was dealing with.”
These days, there’s less stigma surrounding mental illness, which makes it easier for students who are suffering to ask for help, she added.
“I think anybody who struggles with mental health knows how important it is to relax. And having seen other students that I’ve gone to school with struggle with that, I was really just delighted to help out with Evelyn’s Corner.”
Kaylan Gaines, director of recruitment and admissions for the School of Pharmacy, believes the new SMART lab will help draw new students to the program.
“This is definitely going to be a big perk for students to have the opportunity to relax throughout the day, and be mindful, and understand that they have this room here to de-stress, decompress, and re-focus.”
“I’m very proud of the whole team involved in this,” added Steve Gerner, CUW dean of students. “And I’m grateful to the Dohmen Foundation and the Charles E. Kubly Foundation, which provided the financial catalyst for the original space.
“Evelyn’s Place was the first SMART lab in the state of Wisconsin, and now we have them all across campus. It’s exciting to know that the impact made on this campus by Evelyn Hutchins will live on for many years to come.”
— This story is written by Mike Zimmerman, corporate communications manager for Concordia University Wisconsin. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-243-4380.
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