By: Rachel Aster
In 2017, we are a world filled with technology, lights, screens and distractions. While technology is a very useful tool, it can easily become an enemy to a clear mind and mental health.
Nancy Regan saw students struggling with anxiety, stress and depression when she started her career at the Human Health Services on the Gardner campus in April of 2014. Regan had also witnessed some of her closest friends turn to hiking as an outlet while feeling depressed, stressed, or anxious. They claimed that being in nature was a cure-all for their ailments.
Regan was immediately hooked on hiking after trying it and she is passionate about the outdoors. Through personal experiences, Regan knew that outdoor activities, such as hiking, did wonders for her mental health and seeing students struggling was painful. It was then that she decided to start the Hiking Club in September, 2014.
Regan could see a clear link between this generation of students struggling and nature deficiency. The Hiking Club, which meets every first and third Monday of the month from 1 to 1:30 p.m., now is at its peak with 25-30 students participating.
“Students are saying ‘I feel free out here’,” Regan said.
She likes to have the students take charge in the club and pick where and when the hikes happen. Since the club runs year long, other outdoor activities such as ice skating and rock climbing are also part of the club’s agenda.
Regan’s main goal when she started the club was to get students outdoors and experiencing nature. She believes that many students didn’t have the opportunity to be in nature growing up because of all the technology.
Not only are students getting outside, which is crucial for mental health, they are also getting exercise that they otherwise may not have. The combination of fresh air, sunshine, and a good work out are critical to overall mental wellbeing.
“We all have stress and we need to have an outlet,” Regan said.
The club is helping many students on campus that deal with these common mental health issues.