June 4, 2023

Reaching new VISTAS

Anxiety, depression and relationship issues, according to research, are the top three
emotional and behavior issues that affect college students said members of the VISTA project.
The Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA project, sets forth to increase awareness of
mental and behavioral health of college students by giving them relief opportunities.
Maryann Haytmanek and Katie Downing spoke on behalf of the VISTA project at NCC.
“We know that there has been an increase in the need for mental behavioral health services
among all college students,” said Haytmanek, supervisor of the NCC VISTA project.
Using a holistic health approach toward mental behavioral issues, Haytmanek and Downing
promote to students that by eating healthy, taking care of your physical health and paying
attention to your diet could improve overall well-being.
“If students begin to pay attention to some of those challenges their facing, that feeling of being
overwhelmed, that feeling of being medicated and finding that the medication gets in the way of
their concentration and reach out by destigmatizing the idea of going to a counselor for help,”
Haytmanek said.
From having healthy cooking demonstrations at the NCC farmers market performed by culinary
instructor Jason Cassasa, to having a stress relief yoga session with psychology professor Gina
Turner who talked of the mental benefits of yoga, Haytmanek and Downing want the students to
know that it’s OK to seek out help.
“I just want people to know that there is help and we want to try alleviate the stigma of people
going to and seeking help knowing that nothing is wrong with you if you need that extra
support,” said Downing, a VISTA volunteer.
Haytmanek did a brief energy management exercise by drawing a glass filled with bubbles of
energy showing how stress can take away from your energy making it harder to study or focus
on school work.
“For people who feel overwhelmed, it’s usually because they used up all their energy,”
Haytmanek said.
Students who wish to seek out help can find the counseling office in College Center 250 for
Bethlehem campus and Keystone 130 for Monroe campus.
“Research shows close to 71 percent of students who have sought counseling on campus have
felt that that contributed to their being able to stay in school and approach their studies in a
positive way,” Haytmanek said.
The VISTA project is focused on increasing the number and types of mental and behavioral
health awareness activities at NCC.

“Helping students stay in school, and finish school,” said Haytmanek who added that students
who face mental, financial, relationship, or transportation issues should know it’s OK to seek

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