NSCC makes room to raise spirit
Taking a proactive approach to mental illness on campuses
November 3, 2014, 11:05 AM AST
Last updated January 13, 2015, 11:13 AM AST
Among swarms of busy students hurrying to class in the noisy hallways of the Nova Scotia Community College’s Waterfront Campus, the spiritual room sits tucked away in a quiet corner.
The breathtaking view of the Halifax Harbour framed through the building’s giant windows may be calming to the eye, but students need a place of peace and quiet to rest their minds.
Student Krista Perry uses the room when she wants quiet time alone. “When I feel overwhelmed or stressed, I like to use the relaxation music and doing some basic yoga stretches and deep breathing.”
Room 3112 is warm and welcoming. It’s painted in deep earth tones and has a large window overlooking the front lawn of the college.
The room aims to give students and faculty a quiet space to breathe. Students can do spiritual activities or religious practices in the room, or just sit and enjoy the silence.
Janet Moulton, a professor at the Waterfront campus, serves on the campus’ wellness committee and has been active in the planning of the spiritual room from the start.
Moulton says the room was planned when the college was in its design phase eight years ago. “This particular room was set aside specifically for quiet, for calming things.”
The door to the room remains unlocked, so students can use it at their convenience.
Yoga and tai chi classes are offered on a weekly basis. Perry says that yoga makes “a huge difference” in her stress level and mood.
Mark Burnand, vice president of finance at the Waterfront Campus Student Association, says there was talk of using the room for another purpose, but a recent online poll offered great feedback. People who use the room want it to stay as it is.
But many students on campus do not know about the room. “It should definitely be promoted more,” says Perry.
Nicholas Peill says he hasn’t heard much about it. “I would use it, knowing it’s here now.”
He saw the sign outside the door and decided to check it out. “I would use it for time to relax in between classes.”
In 2012, Maclean’s magazine reported a significant increase in mental illness on campuses in Canada, calling it a crisis.
Perry says being a student is stressful. “I think it’s important for each person to find a combination of relaxation and recreation to balance all the stresses of school,” she says.
Moulton says the spiritual room is not a direct response to concerns about the mental health of students, but the college has been working “on learning more about mental illness and recognizing it” and “getting better and more open about it.”
Burnand says the room is “a proactive initiative” and it has been helpful to Perry. “I always feel better after taking a quiet moment by myself.”