SUNY Oswego's Counseling Services Center will team with the college's Employee Assistance Program on Sept. 12 to shine a light on the array of services and organizations available for everyone on campus, especially those that need help coping with friends, family, relationship issues, academic or job pressures.

The 2018 Mental Health and Wellness Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. will feature prizes, games, canine friends, blood pressure screenings, flu shots and information tables representing at least 40 helping organizations from the campus and community. The fair will take place along the quad between Marano Campus Center and Penfield Library; the rain location is in Swetman Gymnasium inside the campus center.

"We will cover all eight dimensions of the wellness wheel at the fair," said Katherine Wolfe-Lyga, director of counseling services at SUNY Oswego. The wellness wheel is a visual guide to the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social, environmental, physical, occupational and financial areas of life that make for overall health.

Wolfe-Lyga said the fair strives to make all aware of "the very real need to offer students -- as well as faculty and staff -- opportunities to connect and be well."

"We want to create a culture on campus, right at the start of the semester, that the college is invested in their wellness and there are lots of ways to attain it," she said.

The Counseling Services Center itself offers individual and group counseling in confidential sessions, as well as "Let's Talk" informal walk-in sessions -- 18 per week in a variety of residence halls as well as Penfield Library and Shineman Center.

"The purpose of Let's Talk is to provide a pre-counseling opportunity for students to try out talking to a counselor," Wolfe-Lyga said. "Many students are helped by one visit. Others stop by occasionally."

'Genuinely helps'

Sydnei Williams, a sophomore theatre major and dance minor from Astoria, Queens, has dedicated herself to encouraging others to take advantage of counseling.

"I've benefited from those services a lot," Williams said. "People should know about it, because it genuinely helps you. A lot of (the stigma) has to do with society -- 'Hey, you're weak, just suck it up' or 'Men are supposed to man-up.' Men and women are allowed to have their emotions. … When I got to the college, I got the help I needed."

The Counseling Services Center provides other outreach services, such as P2P (Peer-to-Peer) Educators, who are students that develop programs to promote psychological health and wellness; the Brush Your Brain video series on topics such as coping with stress; Project O-S-You, an adventure-based program to build self-confidence and self-esteem through outdoor activities and in the classroom; and advice on using meditation and mindfulness to boost attention span, reduce anxiety and help students cope with stress.

The fair's new co-sponsor is the Employee Assistance Program, which can, through a trained coordinator, provide confidential referral services to college faculty and staff. A labor-management EAP Committee sponsors workshops throughout the year on such topics as the psychological and social aspects of retirement, gardening, floral arranging and others, as well as trying to encourage employees to make healthy nutritional choices.

"We are very excited about the event," said Cathy Johnston, EAP coordinator and a staff member of the Provost's Office. "We are fortunate to be able to partner with Health Services and the Counseling Services Center, which have years' worth of experience holding this event for students, and now EAP is able to help bring an expanded event -- including vendors offering traditional as well as alternative forms of wellness -- to all employees here at the campus."

The 2018 Mental Health and Wellness Fair also has invited student organizations -- such as Active Minds -- to participate, Wolfe-Lyga said. Students can access the Laker Life website to find out about more than 200 clubs and organizations on campus. The college's Health Services, Title IX, the Compass student success center and other campus offices will be represented, too.

Also on hand will be representatives of Oswego community organizations, such as Farnham Family Services, Oswego Health, Food Bank of Central New York, Oswego County Suicide Prevention Coalition and SAVE Central New York.

Wolfe-Lyga pointed out that SAVE -- whose mission is to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, reduce stigma, and serve as a resource for those touched by suicide -- will sponsor the eighth annual Stride to Save Lives at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, starting at Hewitt Hall in the center of SUNY Oswego's academic quad.

An event for pre-registered students, faculty and staff, the Anne Frank interactive story-building workshop, will run concurrent with the fair on Sept. 12 in Hewitt ballroom. The project promotes mental health and wellness by using storytelling for community building, conflict resolution and identity exploration. The Anne Frank Project will be the subject of a free public Living Writers Series presentation from 3 to 4:20 p.m. that day in Marano Campus Center auditorium.

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