$1,000 Kent State Grant Establishes Kent State Geauga Mental Health and Wellness Center

Wellness Grant Helps Students Ease Stress, Improve Mental Health

The Kent State University Geauga Campus Wellness Club, in conjunction with Counseling Services, recently received a $1,000 Seeds of Wellness Grant from Kent State. The grant is designed to benefit the entire Kent State Geauga student body with the establishment of a new Mental Health and Wellness Center. 

Counseling Specialist Valerie Rutherford MSW, LISW-S, who is co-advisor to the fledgling Student Wellness Organization with Wellness Ambassador Rae Ann Byers, explained that the focus of the grant is on students who need help in managing stress and improving their overall emotional/mental health. 

“While the transition to college is a time for growth and excitement about the future, college students are faced with a number of new responsibilities and expectations that can be overwhelming and intimidating,” Rutherford said.

Students struggle with the stress of balancing their school responsibilities with all of their other responsibilities like work, children and family, Rutherford added.

“Because we are a commuter campus, our students face unique hardships, such as transportation issues, housing issues and financial stressors, that differ from students who live on campus,” she said. “Our students have to manage their time effectively in order to be successful.”

Fittingly, the Wellness Center is designed to give students creative options for reducing stress, managing emotions and increasing their understanding of mental health issues. Students can then apply their new skills into their lives outside of campus, integrating their new knowledge to cope in any situation, academic or otherwise.  

Shelf of Wellness Club grant items
The new Wellness Center should increase students’ awareness of the services offered on campus, improve general knowledge about stress management and mental health, and offer students the opportunity to release their tension in several different ways. The center will also promote the use of the campus mental health counselor and involvement in the student Wellness Club. 

To qualify for the grant, the proposed project needed to focus on at least one of eight Kent State of Wellness priority areas: Alcohol and Other Drugs, Mental Health, Nutrition, Physical Activity, Preventive Care, Safety, Sexual Health, and Smoking and Tobacco Use. 

“Our project focuses mainly on mental health but also encompasses other areas like nutrition, physical health and preventative care,” Rutherford explained. 
Until now, Kent State Geauga has promoted mental and emotional health on campus but lacked a program offering centralized resources to manage stress and tension and improve mental well-being. The new, centralized Mental Health and Wellness Center now fills that void. 

“We believe we will be able to improve the well-being of those on our campus by offering a consolidated area focused on stress reduction and mental/emotional health,” Rutherford said.

The Mental Health and Wellness Center at Burton is located in the library outside of Counseling Services (Room 120C). The Wellness Center will officially open Jan. 13, 2020, which is the start of the spring semester. Meanwhile, some items are already available at the Wellness Center, including coloring pages and colored pencils, puzzles, 3D pin art, stress balls and other stress toys. 

By spring 2020, a variety of educational brochures and posters focusing on stress management, mental health, nutrition and physical health will also be available to educate students about mindfulness, deep breathing, grounding, self-care and stress reduction in general. The center will also add lava beads, essential oils and puzzles to the existing items. Ongoing fundraising efforts will help to sustain the center into the future. 
While this grant has been approved for the Regional Campus in Burton, a similar grant proposal for the Regional Academic Center in Twinsburg has also been submitted and is pending approval. Rutherford said that if the Regional Academic Center grant is not approved, Burton will split the items between the two locations so that students at both sites can benefit.
Established just a year ago, the Kent State Geauga Wellness Student Organization promotes healthy living, healthy habits and general wellness, not only among students but also among faculty and staff. The wellness benefits are designed to spill out from campus and into the community at large. The grant-supported Mental Health and Wellness Center helps to strengthen the mission of this Wellness Club even further.

POSTED: Friday, November 15, 2019 02:19 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 09:31 AM
Estelle R. Brown