On Monday Nov. 14, Oasis/Haven, SUNY New Paltz’s crisis hotline and walk-in center, held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of its new location in Lenape Hall.
The opening marked the first dedicated space the organizations have had in the past 50 years. It was made possible by the Mental Health and Wellness Enhancement funding provided to SUNY campuses through the federal American Rescue Plan. Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Robin Cohen-La Valle gave a speech thanking all parties involved in creating the new space, while volunteers and other involved members cut the ribbon. Attendees were invited inside for hot chocolate and tea.
Oasis and Haven are student-staffed crisis intervention centers and telephone hotlines. The purpose of the centers are to provide spaces for students who are hesitant to speak with professionals the chance to talk with someone their age. Students are able to walk into their office at the North entrance of Lenape (facing Ridgeview), or call their hotlines: Oasis at (845) 257-4945 and Haven at (845) 257-4930. Office hours are from 8:00 p.m. to midnight, seven days a week for both organizations. Both offices are closed during all breaks.
Oasis offers confidential crisis intervention to help students through difficult parts of their lives such as suicide-related thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The center also deals with issues regarding depression, relationships, roommate disagreements amd sexual-related issues like STIs. Students can also refer to Oasis when faced with alcohol and substance abuse, academic problems and loneliness.
Haven consists of peer volunteers who are trained to respond to issues regarding rape, sexual assault, as well as other unwanted sexual experiences and relationship violence.
Students interested in being a volunteer for either of these groups must first complete a crisis intervention (PSY330) psychology course. After completing all the necessary training, they are able to join the group with helping students experiencing crisis situations.
Two of the students are fourth-year psychology majors Gaby Paiusco and Seth Davis. Both Paiusco and Davis enjoy helping their fellow students through their hardships and value the hands-on experience and connection that come with their responsibilities.
Davis decided to get involved after they transferred to SUNY New Paltz, but was unable to until the following year.
“I’ve always been really passionate about mental health and my struggles with my own mental health, past and present,” Davis said. “It’s made me more in tune with my own emotions and more empathetic to other people as well.”
“Being involved with Oasis, getting to know other people and being vulnerable, creating connections with other people that are involved with Oasis and just being there for other people is not only something I’m passionate about but something I’m very grateful to be a part of as well,” he added.
Paiusco said the potential for hands-on learning combined with the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the organizations made them want to join.
“I really consider all the people here like my family,” she said. “We’ve all gotten so close. We work so well together and just have such a nice time because in this work, it can be very draining. It’s nice that I know that they all have my back.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health or sexual violence related issues, Oasis and Haven are here to help. Call the hotline or walk in anytime from 8:00 p.m. to midnight seven days a week. Any SUNY New Paltz students looking to become a peer volunteer should contact the Psychological Counseling Center at 845-257-2920 to inquire.