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Source: Barbara Pearson, 785-532-6927, bpearson@k-state.edu
Web site: http://www.UniversityLifeCafe.org
News release prepared by: Katie Mayes, 785-532-6415, kmayes@k-state.edu

Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009

NEW K-STATE WEB SITE OFFERS SUPPORT, RESOURCES ON MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES FACING COLLEGE STUDENTS

MANHATTAN -- Whether researching a class assignment, checking up with friends on Facebook or staying in touch with mom and dad by e-mail, college students use the Internet to stay connected.

That's why Kansas State University's counseling services has launched UniversityLifeCafe.org at http://www.UniversityLifeCafe.org -- a new Web site designed to connect students and the K-State community with the resources needed to manage the psychological demands of college life. The project is supported through a $105,000 grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The site is based on a metaphor of a cafe, with the idea that students, faculty and staff will create a warm virtual community that will help make K-State a better place for all.

On the site, students will be able to read about and relate to the experiences of other struggling students, as well as view student art, poetry, videos and blog posts. Besides providing a safe and comfortable place for students to go for information, it also will act as a mental health resource for the larger K-State community. The site will offer information and multimedia on problem-solving skills, stress management tips, substance abuse, building support communities and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Students are encouraged to submit articles, and thoughts to contribute to the Web site. Professionals will also contribute information and articles on the site.

Barbara Pearson, assistant director of counseling services, said such a resource is needed because suicide is the third-leading cause of death among college students in the U.S. She also cited a 13-year study at K-State that showed students were more stressed, anxious and depressed than a decade prior. During that time frame, the number of students seen by counseling services at K-State also doubled, with the number of suicidal students tripling.

"Campus counseling centers have reported an increased demand and not everyone will walk in the door and seek help," Pearson said. "This online program will reach out to the K-State community and to those who might be initially reluctant to seek help and would rather connect and gain information from a Web site.

" Students with personal problems or who are experiencing anxiety, worry, or are feeing overwhelmed and having difficulty with academics are three times more likely to drop out of school," she said.

"UniversityLifeCafe.org will help students connect and navigate the barriers to college success. The hope is that the site can be used as a model for the development of similar sites at other universities across the U.S. and abroad," Pearson said.