Scranton campus plans behavioral health and wellness events for fall semester

students walking to class

Throughout the semester, Counseling Services will host special events focused on a variety of relevant issues, from suicide awareness to self-defense to fitness-based wellness. The events came out of campus polling done last year regarding what types of counseling and wellness programming students wanted to have available.

Credit: Penn State

DUNMORE, Pa. — Now in her second year as Penn State Scranton’s first full-time campus counselor, Katherine J. Stefanelli has a host of vital and informative behavioral health and wellness programming in store for the campus community this fall.

Throughout the semester, Counseling Services will host special events focused on a variety of relevant issues, from suicide awareness to self-defense to fitness-based wellness.

Stefanelli said the events came out of polling she conducted of the campus community last year regarding what types of counseling and wellness programming they wanted to see made available.

“As the campus counselor and Wellness Council leader, it is my responsibility and my pleasure to bring proactive behavioral health as well as wellness events to campus,” Stefanelli said. “I’m thrilled to offer a proactive programming calendar, since awareness and destigmatization of mental health and mental illness has been a large part of my mission since coming to campus.”

On Thursday, Sept. 5, Counseling Services will host an event titled College Transition and Healthy Relationships from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Study Learning Center’s Sherbine Lounge. There, seven information tables will be set up on the following topics:

  • Relationships.
  • Communication.
  • Assertiveness.
  • Consent.
  • Misconduct.
  • Resources (staffed by the Women’s Resource Center).
  • Bystander Information.

The event will include free giveaways, and students who attend and visit all the information tables will be eligible to win a $99 gift card from the campus bookstore.

Next, on Tuesday, Sept. 10, a suicide awareness event will take place from 4-5 p.m. in the Sherbine Lounge.

At the event, which is being sponsored through a donation from the Lynn Moran Endowment Fund, attendees will remember loved ones who lost their lives to suicide, and there will be a screening and discussion of the short film “It’s Real.”

Students will receive information on where to get help for suicidal thoughts and how to support friends and loved ones in need. And, there will be further information and resources directed toward suicide prevention within the LGBTQ+ community. 

Pizza will be served at the event, and there will be some giveaway items.

Heading into October, Counseling Services will host two nights of self-defense and empowerment classes taught by local martial arts and self-defense system trainer Robert Thomas.

Free for students, faculty and staff, the classes will be broken up into two parts.

Part I, “Tsunami Street Smart Personal Protection,” will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, in the Sherbine Lounge. Open to all genders, the 90-minute class will focus on reducing the risk of an attack.

For Part II, “Girls on Guard, College Safety Training,” set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in SLC 29, Thomas will give attendees hands-on, interactive defense training that relies heavily on critical-thinking skills. The 90-minute class is being offered exclusively to women.

Meanwhile, Counseling Services will be offering free afternoon wellness classes throughout the semester.

Zumba classes will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesdays in Dawson 10 beginning Sept. 18 and continuing until Dec. 11. Michele Connor, a certified Zumba instructor at the Greater Scranton YMCA, will lead the classes.

Certified yoga instructor and health coach Carol Brozzetti will teach Integrative Yoga for Trauma from noon to 1 p.m. Thursdays in SLC 29. Classes start Sept. 12 and run through Nov. 7. 

And, certified yoga instructor Katie McNulty will teach Yoga for Relaxation and Stress Relief from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Fridays in Dawson 10, beginning Sept. 20 and continuing through Dec. 13.

In addition, Counseling Services will hold awareness sessions in the SLC lobby for National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 10) and Love Your Body Day (Oct. 18), as well as several events for campus Stress Busters Week in December.

Besides coordinating the campus’ health and wellness programming, Stefanelli provides one-on-one short-term individual sessions to students, as well as referrals for higher levels of care if needed. Appointments can be made in advance in her office in SLC 22, or via email at [email protected].

Urgent, crisis-related appointments are available by walk-in, she said.

Stefanelli also offers campus consultations to staff and faculty via outreach efforts and classroom presentations on timely behavioral health issues.  Staff, faculty and parents may make a referral to her at any time if they become concerned about the emotional health of a student, she said.

“We did some great marketing last year of the new full-time counseling and psychological services available; I think students know who I am now, where to find me on campus, and will continue to use my office as a resource,” said Stefanelli, who also is the adviser for the campus’ Lending a Helping Paw Club, which promotes the many benefits of service dogs.

“It is paramount to have a licensed professional therapist on staff at every college and university today,” she continued. “Research shows that students are seeking mental health services in record numbers for a continuum of concerns, and responsible institutions are seeing this and responding with needed staffing.”

Indeed, universities like Penn State are aggressively addressing the issue through additional funding for both proactive and reactive services — and that’s all to the better, Stefanelli said.

“Ultimately,” she said, “all stakeholders benefit from addressing this paramount concern.”