From a garden wall to a sleep challenge to a storytelling showcase, the newest MindHandHeart Innovation Fund winners aim to make MIT a more welcoming and healthy place. Sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor and MIT Medical, the fund offers grants of up to $10,000 to students, faculty, and staff with ideas to promote mental health and well-being.
MindHandHeart (MHH) awarded $42,138 to 12 projects, half of which are student-driven. Each proposal was reviewed by a committee comprised of members of the Undergraduate Association (UA) and Graduate Student Council (GSC); past Innovation Fund winners; and the MindHandHeart’s leadership team, including Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis, and Media Lab Professor and MHH Faculty Chair Rosalind Picard.
Several projects aim to promote mental health and well-being on campus. “MIT Prevention 2.0 Advanced Training for Gatekeepers” consists of a series of trainings for MIT gatekeepers to better support students. Gatekeepers include those who work directly with students and are in a position to respond to crisis situations, such as graduate resident advisors and tutors (GRA/GRTs), iREFs (Institute-wide Resources for Easing Friction and Stress) peer mentors, and Medlinks, liaisons between undergraduate students and MIT Medical.
Zan Barry, senior program manager in Community Wellness at MIT Medical, is spearheading this project and reflects on its potential, saying: “This joint effort will combine the expertise of students, mental health clinicians, student life professionals, and others. MIT is such a caring community, and Prevention 2.0 is another expression of that care.”
“Sleep Well” is a student-led challenge where members of the MIT community are encouraged to prioritize sleep and develop effective bedtime routines. Sponsored by the Teaching and Learning Lab, “Growth Mindset Video Resources for University Teaching Staff” are videos and supplemental resources to promote growth mindset, which has been associated with resiliency in times of academic stress.
Several projects are altering MIT’s physical landscape to build community and foster a sense of calm. Sponsored by LGBTQ@MIT, “Healing Gardens” is establishing indoor greenery in student spaces, encouraging socialization through cultivating gardens that signify growth, healing, and resilience. “MIT Medical Restorative Garden Wall” will create a garden wall and seating where MIT Medical patients can relax while waiting for their appointments. And, “Cozy Eddies- Lovely and Comforting Spaces that Remind Us to Pause” will build a playful, relaxing space inside of Building 9 to bring joy to passersby.
Additionally, a painting of doves in flight is coming to Building W11, courtesy of an undergraduate-led project entitled “Peaceful Painting.”
Five projects are working to build community at MIT in innovative ways. The “DUSP Healthy Masculinities Discussion Group Retreat” will offer a weekend retreat to members of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) Healthy Masculinities Discussion Group, where students will discuss topics of masculinity and vulnerability. The “Modern Family Mindfulness Program” will provide classes encouraging healthy relationships for adults living in MIT’s family housing communities as well as fun exercises for their children.
“OneWeek” is a student-driven series of events celebrating the many cultures represented in the MIT community as well as a venue to discuss global issues. “MITell Storytelling Showcase” will showcase personal stories told by members of the MIT community. Organized by the Social Justice Programming and Cross Cultural Engagement Intercultural (SPXCE) Center, “The SPXCE Race” consists of events and activities bringing students together in the style of the TV show “The Amazing Race.”
MindHandHeart is accepting applications for the next funding cycle from Oct. 1 to 30. To learn more about how MIT faculty, students, and staff can apply for grants of up to $10,000, visit the MindHandHeart Innovation Fund page.