Tap Room provides space to focus on mental health

Taking a break at the Tap Room

Peer wellness educators and ISU seniors Diane Tan (top) and Madison Hemer use coloring sheets at the Tap Room for student mental health wellness at Parks Library. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Finding time in a day to get everything done can be a challenge. Finding time for mental health can feel like the last thing on a long to-do list.

Student wellness has a new outreach program called the Tap Room that provides a space for students, faculty and staff to take part in activities that promote relaxation, mindfulness and good mental health.

The Tap Room is a play on words with the idea to "make room to tap into you."

"Universities are looking to create places for people to relax," said Brian Vanderheyden, assistant director for student wellness. "The goal is to have people go in there to focus on themselves and take a break."

How it works

The Tap Room sets up a spot on the ground level in Parks Library each Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Depending on the size of the space, various stations are set up for self-directed use in guided meditation, biofeedback, light therapy, aromatherapy, mind puzzles and more. All activities have directions and allow users to go at their own pace.

Vanderheyden said conference rooms and lounges work best, but anywhere away from high-traffic areas is preferred.

One of the advantages of the Tap Room is its mobility. Any student organization, faculty, staff or department can request the room come to a campus location by filling out an online request form. Vanderheyden asks for 14 business days notice to coordinate and ensure best results.

"We bring the equipment and set it up. People can use it for as long as it is there -- anywhere from two hours to a day," Vanderheyden said. "This can be connected to other programs. If an event is going on and you want people to be able to go in and out, it can be used in a variety of ways."

When participants conclude their exercises, they are given a feedback survey and information on mental health resources.

The lessons learned can be applied long after leaving.

"These are all practical things that people can do and practice on their own," Vanderheyden said. "With a lot of these things, it takes practice over time, and doing this once is not going to change everything. Just like physical exercise, you have to do the same things with mental health."

Room to grow

The Tap Room program, which began in February, is coordinated by Peer Wellness Educators -- student employees in student wellness. They spent fall semester researching what other colleges and universities were doing to improve mental health and developed a plan.

The long-term goal is to create several permanent spaces across campus.

"We would like a couple of permanent spaces, but we would still be mobile," Vanderheyden said.