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Event Focuses On Mental Health

Published: October 17, 2016

Event Emblem

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, Project OCEAN (On-Campus Emergency Assistant Network) will hold its annual fall event, Light the Night with Hope, on Brotman Hall’s Maxson Plaza from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Project OCEAN, a program under CSULB’s Counseling and Psychological Services, is devoted to suicide prevention and aims to stimulate conversation about mental well-being and encourage students who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide to seek help. They do this through training courses, workshops and events on campus that are fun and engaging in addition to being informative.

“Sometimes students are afraid to talk about mental health because it’s such a difficult topic to bring up,” said program coordinator Jane D. Killer. “That’s why we roll out programs and interactive events to encourage students to have that space to be able to see that the university does support their mental well-being and that it’s ok to talk about it.”

Light the Night with Hope is glow-in-the-dark themed and will feature a colorful laser visual display designed to attract people all across campus. The intention is to deliver a serious, important topic in a fun and interactive way so that, even if you don’t know what the event is, you will still feel invited to be part of the ongoing conversation about mental health.

The event will feature glow-in-the-dark bowling, ring toss, music by DJ Ninja Loving and interactive stations. Participants can make their own sensory bottles—bottles recycled and filled with materials in order to soothe and de-stress—and stress balls, as well as receive a temporary tattoo to show their support for Project Semicolon, a symbol that has recently come to represent suicide prevention.

“Project Semicolon states that your story is not over. You are the author of your story and the sentence is your life,” said Killer. “Rather than ending the sentence with a period, you can choose to continue your story with a semicolon.”

Although Project OCEAN is known best for its bigger events on campus, one of its most influential programs is a series of training workshops designed to teach the QPR approach, a method of suicide prevention.

“QPR stands for question, persuade and refer,” said Tiffany Schultz, a graduate peer educator with Project OCEAN. “It’s an approach similar to CPR, where, if you encounter somebody who is experiencing distress or in a crisis, you are provided with training on how to create a safe environment and persuade them to stay alive until professional help arrives.”

Project OCEAN administers this training to anyone who requests it, often being asked by faculty members to come into their classrooms and teach the method to their students. This helps to reach students who may not have the time to attend Project OCEAN’s campus events, as well as give other students the information they need to recognize the signs of someone who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide.

“Everybody can learn the QPR approach,” said Schultz. “Everybody can be a gatekeeper, opening and beginning the conversation with that individual and being the one that opens the gate for them to seek help and get connected to the right resources.”

In addition to Light the Night with Hope, Project OCEAN has many more upcoming events geared toward promoting mental well-being, one of those being called Taking Time for You Tuesdays, which for the past couple of years has been part of a workshop that teaches ways to manage stress, communicate effectively with people and form healthy relationships. This semester, though, Project OCEAN team members will be setting up fun and informative activities every other Tuesday on the Speaker’s Lawn in front of the University Bookstore.

Taking Time for You Tuesday will teach students how to manage stress, incorporating a stress ball station and inviting participants to create de-stress stars, which encourage students to think of healthy ways to handle stressful situations, and stress wheels, which show students what areas of their lives are contributing the most to their stress.

“Students can visually see where their stress is coming from rather than be in that stress and not know what’s causing it,” said Killer. “They’ll be able to pinpoint the stressors and our peer educators will have conversations with students to see what they can do to work toward alleviating that stressful area, whether it’s related to school, work or their personal life.”

For more information, visit the Project OCEAN website.