A new space at the University of Alberta helps students deal with anxiety and stress through activities like virtual reality, adult colouring and LEGO.

“There’s (sic) a lot of spaces on campus right now that offer students a place to study a quiet place to relax, but the difference with this room is that you are engaged with something,” explained first year occupational therapy student Katie Scoffield.

“You’re not just relaxing and wanting to go home and take a nap.”

Located in Corbett Hall in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, the “Calm Room” is a dimly lit, nature-themed space equipped with snacks, comfortable furniture, and a number of ways students can take a break from their responsibilities.

“In occupational therapy we talk a lot about the interactions between our environment and ourselves, so the room is designed to reflect that concept,” Scoffield said.

The Calm Room gives students an opportunity to take care of themselves.

“We’re trying to normalize mental health self-care,” said Miranda Lisowski, a first year masters of occupational therapy student and member of the committee behind the Calm Room.

“I just think the prevalence of anxiety and depression is so huge across campus and especially at such a large university like the University of Alberta. This is really a response by the students for our fellow students, to give our peers a chance to manage their anxiety on their own time.”

“Sometimes you are so stressed you can’t even think. A virtual reality simulation like a calming forest walk might be nice,” added another first year occupational therapy student, Lara Oberg.

“On the flip side, maybe you’re so tired and you need to charge yourself up a bit, maybe something like a roller coaster could be good for that.”

Lisowski hopes to see other faculties open a similar space so the concept is more accessible to students.

The Calm Room in Corbett Hall was a $10,000 project, funded in parts by the Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and Heroes for Health.

With files from Nicole Weisberg