Northampton Community College (NCC) confirmed the development of new Zen Zones on Bethlehem, Monroe and the Fowler Family Southside Center Campuses for students to decompress and take some time for self-care.
The low sensory Zen Zones will offer a space free from distractions that would allow students, faculty and staff to take a moment to regroup, practice guided breathing, mindfulness in the moment, or to learn skills about coping with the stresses of college and personal life.
NCC was able to make the Zen Zones a reality with the help of NCC’s community partner, Preventive Measures, a mental health and home health leader that fosters thriving communities in the Lehigh Valley and Pocono regions.
The Zen Zones will incorporate sensory activities, wellness books and materials, and more for students, faculty and staff to utilize. A variety of wellness events and support groups will be hosted in partnership with community and campus organizations such as National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), NCC’s Counseling Department, and Active Minds student mental health alliance. Individuals will also have access to information on NCC and community mental health resources.
An estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education designated NCC as a Certified Suicide Prevention Institution of Higher Education. The proposed Zen Zones will enhance efforts to prevent suicide at NCC and in the wider community.
“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. 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,” said Julie Bailey, NCC’s major gifts officer.