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Northampton Community College Developing 'Zen Zones' to Focus on Mental Health, Self-Care | WDIY Local News

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Northampton Community College will develop new spaces for students, faculty, and staff to focus on their mental health and well-being.

NCC said Monday that it is creating “Zen Zones” at its Bethlehem, Monroe, and Fowler Family Southside Center campuses.

According to a release from the school, these low-sensory zones will offer a distraction-free space for individuals to regroup, practice guided breathing and mindfulness, or to learn skills about coping with various stresses.

They will incorporate sensory activities, wellness books and materials, information on mental health resources, and more.

“NCC is an open-access institution with a diverse population of students, with far too many grappling with academic, personal, and financial challenges that inhibit their ability to focus on their studies and stay in school,” Julie Bailey, NCC’s major gifts officer said in the release.

“We hope that the Zen Zones will raise awareness while reducing the stigma for mental health across the NCC community, and in turn, prevent mental health crisis.”

NCC said a number of wellness events and support groups will also be hosted with community and campus organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NCC’s Counseling Department, and the Active Minds student mental health alliance.

The Zen Zones are being developed in partnership with Preventive Measures, a mental health and home health services company.

Preventive Measures CEO Dwayne Jones said his firm holds, “a deep concern for the mental well-being of the youth, particularly the vulnerable 18-24 age demographic, where mental health concerns are prevalent.”

“We recognize the pressures of school and daily life and value the opportunity to collaborate with NCC on a tranquil space for self-care, reducing stress and enhancing well-being for students, faculty and staff.”

Northampton Community College is a designated “Certified Suicide Prevention Institution of Higher Education” by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The release said the new proposed zones will help efforts to prevent suicide at NCC and in the community.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, an estimated 26% of Americans aged 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year.

(Original air-date: 9/14/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky is WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director.