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Mental Health Spring at HSE University: Mafia, Therapy Dogs, and Complete Relaxation

On May 19, the annual Mental Health Spring festival dedicated to psychological health took place in the atrium of HSE University on Pokrovsky Bulvar. The event was organised by the HSE Centre for Psychological Counselling and the ‘Training School’ student organisation.

The Mental Health Spring programme featured lectures and master classes by HSE psychologists, who discussed important issues related to psychology and psychotherapy for personal development and improving psychological well-being.

The entertainment side of the event took place in the central atrium of the building. The space was divided into several themed zones; after attending each of them, guests received special stickers which they could later exchange for prizes. The zones were:

 the emotions and energy space (where guests warmed up and played active games, remembering their childhood and carefree times)

 the reflection space (a space for slowing down and introspection, calmness and creativity)

 the chill space (a place to relax)

 the communication space (with speed dating-style activities aimed at introducing people to each other)

 the magic space (a game of Mafia in a new format)

One particular highlight was a meeting between guests of the event and therapy dogs. Dog therapy is a method of psychological treatment that uses specially trained dogs to help people relax, calm down, and cope with stress and anxiety.

© Evgenia Bashkardina / HSE University

Ksyusha Pashchenko, Mental Health Spring volunteer and first-year student of the HSE Philology programme, says that she had wanted to help friends organise a large-scale event for a long time. ‘I’ve just joined the “Training School” and got immediately immersed in this atmosphere. It's very interesting,’ says Ksyusha.

Sonya Kuzmina, first-year student of HSE Business Administration programme, is also a member of the ‘Training School’. She takes part in organising events similar to the Mental Health Spring. ‘I joined the “Training School” because I wanted to organise large-scale events,’ she says. ‘HSE students study and work a lot. Sometimes we need to exhale a little and forget about everything, so we need this Mental Health Spring.’

The event culminated in ‘Emotional Burnout and Spring Reboot’, a performance by the Eleven playback group and Sergey Novikov, musician of the Bobry (‘Beavers’) group.

HSE students shared their impressions of the Mental Health Spring with the HSE News Service.

Ksenia Bolodurina, first-year student of the ‘Strategy and Production in Communications’ programme

'Such events are essential for students because they help them to unwind. For example, now I feel burned out and have no energy to study. Here you can relax and colour pictures, for example. I advise applicants to have a good rest in the summer; HSE University is a wonderful place, but you need to study a lot.'

Semyon Maska, first-year student of the 'International Relations and Global Studies' international programme

'I love all kinds of events at HSE University; wherever you go, you feel good. A friend invited me to the Mental Health Spring. He sent me the programme, and it surprised me that there were so many different lectures—a whole day full of interesting things. I went after classes and now I have to get back to my studies, but I wanted to be here so much! These kinds of events make HSE not only a university where you study, but also a second home where you can relax. There are a lot of opportunities to meet new people here, which is also cool.'

Ksenia Panaeva, first-year student of the ‘Film Production’ master’s programme

'I've been to such events before—art therapy meetings for example—and I really liked it. Mental Health Spring is an important, useful and interesting event. Here you can unwind, chat, and relieve stress, and the therapy dogs help a lot with that!'

See also:

Meditation Has Greater Benefits for Intrinsically Motivated People with High Self-Control

HSE University researchers Evgeny Osin and Irina Turilina conducted an intervention study looking into the effectiveness of a short-term online mindfulness meditation course. They discovered that even after a three-week course of daily 10 to 15-minute meditation sessions, novice participants benefitted from improved emotional wellbeing, concentration, motivation and self-reflection. The practitioners were also less likely to fixate on negative thoughts. However, these effects only applied to people who already had sufficiently high levels of self-control and motivation to meditate and were thus less likely to give up on the practice. The research is presented in an article published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being

Furry Therapists, Yoga and Self-care: HSE Joins in Celebrating World Mental Health Day

On October 10, HSE University celebrated World Mental Health Day. The HSE News Service learned about how dogs treat people, how to avoid stress and where to get psychological counselling at HSE University.