Wellness kits donated to help first-year students navigate the pandemic

FREDONIA,NY– Wellness kits are on their way to State University of New York at Fredonia first-year students to help them address unique needs during an academic year made more challenging by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

What will students find in these kits?

An assortment of items that have become part of everyday life, such as a face mask, water bottle, hand sanitizer spray and lip balm, along with stickers, a postcard and a pin that contain referral information about suicide warning signs, crisis hotline and lists of mental health resources available on Instagram and through myStrength. The wellness kit comes in a reusable shopping bag printed with information about the Fredonia Counseling Center.

“Items included are intended to promote wellness and provide students with resources needed to be vigilant of their own and others mental health and well-being during this unprecedented time,” said Ann Rosenthal, public relations coordinator of the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, the agency donating 750 kits to the campus.

The kits are funded by a federal grant awarded to the county Department of Mental Hygiene to address specific age groups, including students, ages 18 to 21. It is an expansion of the county’s federally-supported Chautauqua Tapestry system of care grant. Tapestry Resilience is focused on college-aged youth.

“The Fredonia Counseling Center is very pleased to collaborate with community health partners in providing information about campus and community mental health resources that are available to our student body population during these stressful and unpredictable times,” said Julie Bezek, the Counseling Center’s prevention, advocacy and wellness coordinator. “It’s so important that students know what resources exist for them.”

“Mental health concerns are prevalent for our on-campus students and even more so now during a time where there is limited in-person socialization due to the pandemic,” said Director of Residence Life Kathy Forster. The wellness kits are being distributed to first-year resident students by the Office of Residence Life.

“Without the ability to connect with students with traditional on campus in-person meetings, we saw this as an excellent opportunity to connect students with an introduction to the community as well as to local, state and national supports for mental illness and self-care at SUNY Fredonia,” said Pat Brinkman, director of Community Mental Hygiene Services, Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene.

Social distancing has created a whole new way of life on many levels, and universities are no different, said Rachel Ludwig, Chautauqua County’s Tapestry Resilience grant director. “At a time when young adults are transitioning into all of the changes that come with college life, it is important to make sure that they are looking out for each other and themselves.

“These kits were put together to feature campus wellness and counseling centers and include items that are practical and that engage many of the senses,” Ms. Ludwig added. “The kits also feature online and virtual resources. Overall, the bags are meant to highlight opportunities for resilience locally and beyond.