Students and faculty gathered in the McCarthy Center Jan. 23 to view the new “Self-Care Station” created by Health Services.
The Self-Care Station is a vending machine residing in the existing vending machine alcove.
The machine contains cold care products, sleep kits, menstrual products, stress kits, instant hot packs, and various other health items to help with the mental and physical health of students around campus.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Director of Health Services Ilene Hofrenning said her office teamed up with the S.E.A.L.S. Peer Health Educators (Support. Education. Action. Leadership. Strength.) in order to bring the project to fruition.
“We did it because whenever students fill out the satisfaction survey, or sometimes [we] just hear from students that they think the health center should be open more hours, weekends, and evenings, and that’s a huge expense … We thought, how can we extend our reach to students?” she asked.
“Sometimes students, if they have a bad cold, they don’t necessarily need a medical visit, but they may need some information, or they might need some health care products that could help them feel better. So, we thought, let’s have a vending machine that can be open after hours and over weekends for students to access,” said Hofrenning.
Health Services staff decided they would choose the alcove as the location is always open, centrally located, and private if students feel sensitive about their products.
“We wanted a place that is open 24/7, and there’s not many [other] places … It’s pretty central – if you live on campus, you go there three times a day for food,” Hofrenning said.
Junior criminology major Mattie Devin, a resident assistant who helped with the vending machine project, and participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony, said, ”I was on the Self-Care Station Team, and I think it’s important that these supplies are available to students because while the products are often necessary for so many people, some students struggle to access them due to financial or scheduling purposes.”
Junior English major Erin Cook said, “I think it’s really important to have an accessible, and affordable – i.e. free – thing on campus for mental health and physical health because A. we’re all really poor, and B. none of us are mentally healthy.”
Health services also moved the Mindkare Kiosk to accompany the new vending machine.
Hofrenning said, “[The Mindkare Kiosk] is an anonymous screening tool for a number of different mental health issues, problems, or symptoms. You can choose which screening tool you want to use, whether it be for anxiety, depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, bipolar, and/or psychosis.
“It asks a number of questions, and then gives the person feedback related to the answer that they’ve given,” she said.
From there, the kiosk can give students information about symptoms they may be experiencing, and steps that can be taken in the future to combat mental illness.
The kiosk also features a QR Code that will link students to the survey, if they feel as if they don’t want to answer such private questions in the open.