USC’s on-campus farmers market promotes mental health

Students are encouraged to read handouts related to each weekly theme of the farmer’s market. Meera Bhonsle photos.

Each week, the Healthy Carolina Initiative at the University of South Carolina holds a farmer’s market on Greene Street for students, faculty, and staff to learn how to embrace healthy lifestyle habits. The market serves as a guide to navigating different aspects of personal health and wellness with a new theme every week. Launched in 2008, the market has become a weekly tradition which those at USC look forward to.

This week’s theme is significant for many at the university: stress and mental health. Director of Healthy Carolina Initiatives, Jackie Knight explained that Healthy Carolina has a “vision of a healthy campus environment which is to live, learn, work, and play.” Knight was excited for this week, especially since many students struggle with balancing their lives once they come to college.

The market features vendors from the Midlands selling coffee, fresh-pressed juice, fresh produce, and other prepared goods. Each vendor is significant to the market because the products sold promote health and wellness.

In a lively atmosphere filled with music and students gallivanting in the street, the Healthy Carolina team shared the importance of the services offered at the Health Center for stress reduction and a healthy state of mind. Associate Director of Mental Health Initiatives for Healthy Carolina, April Scott, talked about the “calm oasis” in the student health center. Calming components include yoga, meditation, and the facility dog, Indie, who serves as a stress reliever for students looking to decompress.

Scott said she enjoys the weekly market. “It’s a great way to catch students who may not feel comfortable coming directly into the student health center, so we make it less intimidating by talking to them out here,” she said. She explained that the relaxed environment of the market makes it easier for many students to start a conversation about getting assistance for their mental health needs.

In addition to the market, Healthy Carolina launched a weekly podcast called “Hear Me Out,” in which students share their mental health stories. They discuss how they are helping take care of other students while continuing to care for themselves.

The Healthy Carolina Farmer’s Market is held each Tuesday from 12:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Greene Street near USC’s Russell House. For more information on the Healthy Carolina Initiative, click here.

Categories: Columbia, Education, Richland County