SWAT: Battling stress one game at a time

To give students an opportunity to relax and have a healthy break from stress, Social Workers Acting Together hosted a karaoke and game night on the third floor of Sundance Court Apartments on Oct. 5.

SWAT is an organization of college students majoring in social work in which they host events around the campus and city communities. They partner with Phi Alpha, the honors society for social work students, and National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Charles Staats, president of Phi Alpha, said, “Phi Alpha is a national honor society for social work students. That chapter here at MSU is Delta Kappa.”

Phi Alpha has been on campus since the 1960s primarily to engage in community service.

“A lot of our involvment is partnered with SWAT. We host different events here at the school as well as go out into the community. We’ve done projects with the MLK center, the community garden. We have also gotten involved with serving meals here at Faith Mission Refuge. As far as engaging with the community, we try to go to some of the local agencies that allow people to come down and assist in any way we can with population they serve,” Staats said.

About 25 students attended the event, during which various games were present for students to play, including Uno, Cards Against Humanity, Taboo and Scrabble, as well as a karaoke station for students to test their vocal skills by signing to their favorite songs. Snacks and refreshments were also provided.

LeaAnn Reyes, president of SWAT, said she hoped that this game night would be a healthy way to process the events that have affected the community recently.

“[SWAT] hosted game night as a way for people to relax and have fun together and for those who have social anxiety or may not know a lot of people. With the death of Robert Grays, there has been a lot of depression and a lot of anxiety. Also with the Caribbean students, a lot of them could not reach home to their families for a week or so. It has been stressful so we decided we need to do something,” Reyes said.

This game night was also a part of SWAT’s catalog of events its hosting this week in part of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Organizers at Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct. 1-7, aim to end the negative stigma associated with mental illnesses and to educate the community.

Reyes said, “We also wanted to highlight people who have mental illnesses and let them know that they are not alone and do not have to suffer.”

Staats also asserts the importance of bringing awareness to mental illness.

Staats said, “With Mental Illness Awareness Week and really with what NAMI does, these are efforts toward ending the stigma that mental illness has. It is a movement to spread the word, educate people and get them talking about it in a good way. I think there is a long way to go. There are still a lot of movies that portray mental illness in a bad way. In general, I think people just carry that stigma without realizing.”

SWAT members are hosting events all week to bring awareness to mental illness and help end the stigma. Each night there is an activity planned, such as their event in which they are having a screen of “Silver Linings Playbook” in the Legacy Hall Multipurpose Room this Friday.

Some students utilized this event to branch out on campus.

Kalyn Johnson, social work junior, said, “I wanted to meet new people. This is my first year at MSU and first year in Wichita Falls. I am from Austin. I think this is a good idea. It is a good way to keep the community together.”