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Source: Fred Newton, 785-532-6927, newtonf@k-state.edu
Web sites: http://www.universitylifecafe.org/ and http://www.k-state.edu/counseling/
News release prepared by: Katie Mayes, 785-532-6415, kmayes@k-state.edu

Monday, Oct. 26, 2009

K-STATE COUNSELING SERVICES MOVING SOME SERVICES TO DIGITAL FORMATS TO BETTER REACH STRESSED-OUT STUDENTS

MANHATTAN -- Today's college students can have an intimate relationship with the world around them. Thanks to the Internet, any number of electronic devices and social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, they can know what's going on not only across the globe, but with their friends and acquaintances.

Fred Newton, director of Kansas State University's counseling services, says that this information-rich world is stressing out college students.

"We all need to have time to reflect, regenerate, problem solve and generally direct our lives in a way that provides an opportunity to reach personal goals and be successful," he said. "This seems more difficult in today's world where the activity is fast-paced and all of the issues, plights and opportunities are literally in our face."

Newton said that K-State counseling services can help and that students don't have to be in crisis to come in and talk to a counselor.

"The vast majority of college students function pretty well emotionally, mentally and personally. They couldn't stand college otherwise," Newton said. "But we want to let the students know we are available to talk with them when they need to make decisions, solve particularly perplexing problems or deal with stress."

To reach out more effectively to all students, Newton said counseling services is working to convert many of its services to the very digital formats college students flock to for everyday information. The push began in January, with counseling services' first online initiative: UniversityLifeCafe.org.

An interactive Web site, UniversityLifeCafe.org was created to engage students and promote emotional wellness and academic success. The site features text, audio and video, as well as an interactive blog where K-State students, faculty or staff can discuss topics of interest. It includes informative pages tackling topics such as suicide prevention, chronic stress, depression, anxiety and substance abuse, and seeks to promote constructive help-seeking behaviors. The site is designed to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

"We've had people from nearly 90 countries look at it so far," Newton said. "We're continually in the process of making sure it is user-friendly."

Newton said counseling services is evaluating additional format changes, the most immediate of which will be putting the stress management program online.

"We need to get it into a useable format that students are willing to pick it up," he said. "They might as well be walking to class plugged in listening to information about 'How do I take this test?' or 'How do I relax my mind?'

"We are actively looking at ways we can reach out and connect with students," he said.

So far this year, Newton said counseling services has seen a slightly higher number of students compared to prior years. Typical concerns revolve around relationships and stress, in addition to money and job prospects. According to counseling services annual report, counselors saw around 1,100 clients last year.

More information about K-State counseling services is available at http://www.k-state.edu/counseling/