Mental Health Awareness Fair Helps Students Unwind

Therapy dog at the Mental Health Awareness Fair. Photo Credit / David Colon
Therapy dog at the Mental Health Awareness Fair. Photo Credit / David Colon
Therapy dog at the Mental Health Awareness Fair. Photo Credit / David Colon

By Richard MacTough

Staff Writer

On Oct. 29 East Stroudsburg University held a Mental Health Awareness Fair, while keeping with the Halloween theme on campus.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) one in four individuals experience some sort of mental health disorder in their lifetime making mental health awareness a prominent and serious issue.

In keeping with the Halloween theme, Hoeffner Science and Technology Center was decorated with pumpkins, ghosts and spiders, and students were encouraged to attend the event in costume.

The university’s Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) staff were present at the event, teaching the community of several mental disorders. Attendee’s participated in games, earned prizes and had their faces painted by the non-profit student club, Active Minds.

The face paintings were free to students Butterfly face artwork in particular was encouraged,  because butterfly imagery is used to raise awareness for self-harm.

Around the fair were various lists of information and students were instructed to fill out responses on a sheet of paper.

Once students were finished they were entered into a drawing.

Every 15 minutes, a randomly selected winner received a bag of candy or a free t-shirt.

One table hosted a match game with the goal of  putting together celebrities with their personal mental diagnoses. Celebrities consisted of Kurt Cobain, Jim Carrey, Demi Lovato and the recently deceased Robin Williams.

The CAPS offered informational pamphlets and had students take surveys to encourage counseling.

Not everyone has a mental illness, but CAPS believes it is important for all students know what resources are available to them on campus.

One of the most heavily attended exhibits at the fair was the selfie booth, which aimed to help relieve stress and get students into the Halloween mood.

Participants were encouraged to laugh and wear masks, wigs and other fancy costumes.

Students were given tips on how to reduce stress including getting plenty of sleep and exercise, and consuming nutritional meals.

There were therapy dogs around the room getting a lot of attention with belly rubs from students. According to information provided at the fair, interacting with animals in a positive way is a proven stress relief.

“I had forgotten the fair was supposed to take place, so when I walked into SciTech and saw all of the dogs and Halloween decorations it absolutely made my day,” said Kathleen Kraemer, junior.

Some students received acupuncture or massages at the event to relieve stress. As one attendee recalls, “the massages were the best part.”

She continued, explaining that the massage was “exactly what [she] needed.”

Attendees left with the message that mental illnesses are something students  should be aware of. College is a fun, but potentially stressful time with busy schedules and big workloads.

The fair provided information about the resources available to the students on campus through CAPS.

They offer counseling services by licensed psychologists, self help sessions and more.

Visit CAPS, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on the second floor of the Flagler-Metzgar Health Center. They can be contacted at (570) 422-3277.

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