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Penn State Wilkes-Barre holds Mental Health Awareness Day

Times Leader - 10/21/2017

Oct. 21--LEHMAN TWP. -- Erin Maloney learned she copes with stress well after taking an assessment at Penn State Wilkes-Barre's Mental Health Awareness Day held Friday.

The 21-year-old admitted her tendency to procrastinate can create self-inflicted stressful situations. However, her habit of going to the gym to participate in physical activities releases pent-up stress.

"I cope with stress better than I thought," she said after seeing the result of her stress assessment.

Maloney, of Falls, was one of many students who participated in a variety of activities that included massages, games and creative activities such as pumpkin painting at the third annual Mental Health Awareness Day at Penn State Wilkes-Barre in Lehman Township.

The event was designed to teach students the importance of managing stress through healthy activities as well as sparking conversations with friends, faculty and staff.

Many college students are dealing with all different forms of stress, such as living away from home, dealing with roommates, school work, jobs and daily living responsibilities, said Melisa Naylor, the coordinator of the event and an instructor of Rehabilitation and Human Services at Penn State Wilkes-Barre.

"If they take time to care for their mental health, they can make other areas of their life more successful," Naylor said.

Many students can develop anxiety and depression during their college years, campus counselor Sarah Luvender said.

A 2016 report from the Penn State University Center for Collegiate Mental Health found anxiety and depression are the most common issues for college students nationwide.

The study also stated over the past six years college students reported increasing levels of social and generalized anxiety and depression.

Elisha Hernandez, 18, of Philadelphia, said she frequently misses her family and "sometimes wants to be home."

She found going to the gym on campus and playing basketball or volleyball helps her cope with her emotions.

"You have to make an effort to take care of yourself," Hernandez said.

Naylor said making time to sit and talk with friends in the sun, play a game, or laugh are all tools people can use to manage stress and improve their mental health.

Morgan Korba, 18, of Hanover Township, and four of her friends were laughing as they exited an inflatable game called "Hippo Munch."

The game required she and her friends to strap on bungee cords and then try to reach the center of the inflatable to collect as many red foam balls as they could.

"Laughing helps to forget everything else that is going on," Korba said. "It makes you live in the moment."

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(c)2017 The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

Visit The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) at www.timesleader.com

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