SUNY New Paltz hosted its third Mental Health Fair in the Student Union Building (SUB) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26. The fair was the centerpiece of Mental Health Week on campus, taking place from Oct. 24 to Oct. 28. The event hosted several on and off-campus clubs and organizations that support the mental health of students and the community. The Psychological Counseling Center (PCC), Student Affairs, Active Minds, Student Psychological Resilience Advocates, OASIS/HAVEN peer crisis center staff and Holistic Hawks worked together to curate the organization’s tabling at the fair.
Around 200 people attended the fair, right around the average number of attendees each semester. Students and faculty entered raffles, played games and received information on different organizations that are there to support their mental health. Food and drinks were provided. Several giveaways were hosted throughout the event, offering journals, water bottles, yoga mats and more.
Hudson Valley Community Services, a non-profit healthcare organization based in Hawthorne, provided pop-up narcan training for attendees. Narcan is a life-saving medicine that can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. People who completed the training were given narcan kits and harm reduction resources.
The PCC was also offering free depression and resilience screenings for students. These screenings provided students with a survey on mental health and a one-on-one lesson with a counselor that taught resilience and coping skills. The PCC additionally offered “Let’s Talk” services, a one-on-one private consultation with no appointment necessary.
The fair was first proposed and organized by Active Minds, a club on campus. Anya Sager, a SUNY New Paltz student, is the president of Active Minds. She organized the fair as president for the first time this semester.
“Our general mission is to de-stigmatize the talk about mental health and also advocate for more mental health resources and just trying to get the word out about what’s available to students,” Sager said.
The fair is an extension of Active Minds’ mission and looks to ensure that all students are aware of the resources available to them.
“I have heard wonderful feedback from people [about the fair] … I have also heard a lot of people didn’t know about all of the resources we provide — things like the LGBTQ+ coordinator, the Title IX coordinator, we have a food pantry — all of that contributes to your mental health,” Sager added. “Just like we do at club fair where you can see all of the clubs and choose what best suits you, we thought it’d be a great idea to do that about the mental health resources because so many people didn’t know about what’s available to them.”
Jackie Cirello, the Student Affairs coordinator of wellbeing initiatives and outreach, helped organize the fair for the first time this semester. She described the fair’s impact on students, “I believe the fair helps students make better connections to campus departments and community organizations who can provide resources around mental health, alcohol and substance use prevention, education and just getting to know the different resources that are available to them both on and off campus.”
Alongside the fair were several other programs held throughout the week aimed at supporting students’ mental health, like stress management workshops and meditation lessons. More mental health resources can be found on the PCC website or the Holistic Hawks page on Engage. The next Mental Health Fair will take place in the Spring semester of 2023, with the exact date yet to be announced.