For the spring 2017 semester, I volunteered in the S.M.A.R.T. Lab, a service through the Student Wellness Center. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Stress Management and Resiliency Training.
The SMART lab is a service for students feeling stressed about school, home, everyday life or anything you can imagine to come in and learn how to breathe to lower stress levels basically. Signing up for the Semester of Service program I didn’t really know what to expect except that I would be learning about mental health, a topic I am passionate about. I thought the SMART lab sounded intriguing, so I signed up for that as my service site. I never thought the whole program would be able to teach me how to manage my own stress better, become more of a leader and allow me to develop organizational skills as I balance volunteering with school, a job and other commitments. All in all the smart lab has been so fun to be a part of, to watch clients come in an sit in awe as they physically watch their “coherence levels” rise right in front of their eyes. Getting a hang of the technology and procedure we use has definitely been the trickiest part, but I feel I have come a long way. Everyone who I have encountered has been so nice and supportive of the smart lab, as it is a brand new service so there are still some bumps along the way. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.
I have been able to learn so much about mental health through this program. Mental health is an aspect of society that many people do not want to address and I find that so disheartening. Currently I am majoring in Health Sciences and I am pre-physical therapy. However, I have definitely considered a career in the social aspect of health as a second option. Social work as of right now sits as my backup plan. I would love especially to help children who may not receive all the resources or support they need. As of right now though, I plan to continue volunteering with a site advocating for mental health awareness.
The SMART lab created a way for me to interact first hand with people dealing with stress affecting their everyday lives. I thought that was so beneficial because it opened my eyes to how most people in society deal with a great amount of stress in their lives but keep it hidden away. By talking to some people, I was able to learn that there are all kinds of different stressors and ways people cope with stress. This eye opening experience has already allowed me to help some of my friends and family take care of their stress levels, whether it be just talking to them or recommending professional help. The Smart lab is brand new this year, and there are still revisions being made to the procedure and maintenance operations. But all in all, it’s going very smoothly I personally believe. In the lab, I was in charge of running the Facebook page to create a platform on social media and running the lab and seeing clients with Maria on Mondays.
I plan to continue volunteering the mental health field throughout college to gain more and more knowledge to help more and more people. Hopefully as I continue to volunteering with mental health I will be able to gain more leadership responsibilities.