Mayday! May Day! addresses mental health issues

    On Sunday afternoon, a group of students concerned with mental health will host “Mayday! May Day! A Festival for Health and Joy” on the lawn outside of the Foster-Walker complex. The event is co-sponsored by The Mental Health Project, Counseling and Psychological Services, Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators, Active Minds, the Women’s Center and Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault.

    Communication senior and co-producer Shannon Oliver-O’Neil explained that the festival consists of six themed “lands”: the entrance and exit, body, outer pressures, outlook, and sex and relationships. In the center, there will be a Maypole for regular dance breaks.

    Each land will have actors playing specific characters, including a lost sailor, a crashed pilot and a perfectionist referee. The characters will guide a variety of games and activities, such as a relay-racing, fortune-telling and pillow-jousting.

    “All these activities are tweaked in such a way to talk about mental health,” said co-producer Evan Troost, a Communication senior.

    Oliver-O’Neil said the event is part Disneyland, part Mayday celebration, street theatre, circus and forum. Each co-sponsoring group will have their own booths in specific lands. CAPS Executive Director John Dunkel will give a keynote speech at 2 p.m.

    “We were interested in making something fun and shiny that would get the community talking,” she said.

    Co-producer Evan Troost, a Communication senior, came up with the idea with Oliver-O’Neil this summer. They have since raised money – $700 of their funding came from the Be the Change grant through Norris – and talked with students about mental health issues in small groups. Troost said they hosted several workshops on perfectionism and anxiety in dorms last quarter.

    Most of the crew and actors for the festival are theatre majors who are active in creative drama or theater education. They are all interested in reconnecting the Northwestern community, Troost said.

    “The No. 1 priority here is to get people out in the sun having a good time,” she said. “We’re trying to create an atmosphere that’s reflective of the positive attitude we want people to carry forward.”


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