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Students receive national award for helping peers learn to deal with stress

December 09, 2008 12:00AM

Photo left to right: Members of Gorillas In Your Midst are Lauren Hankins, Kelsey Lewis, Alexa Deghand, Callie Croucher, Donny Lewis, Kevin Harvey.

A student group at Pittsburg State University has been awarded a national honor for a program designed to help students cope with the stresses of college life.

Gorillas In Your Midst, a student group dedicated to the health and wellness of PSU students, was awarded Outstanding Program for Mental Health Awareness for "Reduce Your Stress For More Success - Promoting Good Mental Health" at the BACCHUS Network General Assembly, held Nov. 13-16 in Columbus, Ohio.

The BACCHUS Network is a university and community-based organization focusing on comprehensive health and safety initiatives. Six hundred students from campuses across the United States come together each year at the BACCHUS General Assembly to share their ideas and experiences with one another.

J.T. Knoll, adviser for the group, said the objectives of the PSU program were to educate students, faculty, and area mental health professionals; to combat stigma and promote mental health awareness using a variety of activities related to emotional and behavioral issues; and to promote collaboration on and off campus.

The weeklong program featured the following:

  •  Speaker Colleen Coffey addressed the stigma of mental illness, and a workshop was also held.
  • Day of Dialogue guideline letters with data on college mental health issues, suggestions on how to engage students in discussions about stress management, mental health / illness, stigma, and where to seek help were mailed to all faculty.
  • Bookmarks were distributed outlining warning signs of depression, how to recognize and help friends in crisis, and listing national and local phone emergency phone numbers.
  • "Mood Cards" with Progressive Relaxation/Breathing Exercise guides were distributed.
  • Students wrote positive messages on campus sidewalks during a Sidewalk Chalk campaign.
  • Gorillas In Your Midst collaborated with the SEK Humane Society for a campus "Adopt A Pet" stress relief program.
  • Information tables were set up in Overman Student Center and the Oval with an interactive Health Jeopardy game, free apples, and lots of information about diet, exercise and stress management.

 The professional workshop was a collaboration between University Counseling and the Southeast Kansas Counseling Association. Student Health Services, Student Prevention & Wellness, the Student Activities Council, University Athletics, Admission and Enrollment Services, the Residence Hall Assembly, and the Southeast Kansas Humane Society provided further support.

For more information on the award, contact J.T. Knoll at (620) 235-4062 or

---Pitt State---

©2008 Pittsburg State University