Program on Human Trafficking to be Offered

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The Montgomery County Teen Parent Task Force, in collaboration with the Phi Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) Student Support and Referral Team (SSRT), will host a Straight Talk program about Human Trafficking on Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 6:30-9 p.m.

The program will be held in the Science Center Theater at MCCC’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell with video-conferencing to South Hall 221 at the West Campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown. The program is free and is open to the public, and guests are asked to bring donations of non-perishable food items for a local food bank. For information or to pre-register, email gspena@mc3.edu.

The program, titled “How Can Human Sex Trafficking Affect You and Your Children,” will include a screening of the short film “Chosen,” followed by a panel discussion and Q & A session. Pennsylvania Senator Daylin Leach will join experts to discuss the impact of this modern form of slavery in our communities.

SSRT is a proactive initiative at MCCC designed to assist students deal with issues that may be roadblocks to success in their education and lives. To learn more, visit mc3ssrt.wordpress.com.

(Post written by Alana Mauger, Director of Communications, Montgomery County Community College)

SSRT Begins Fifth Year of Serving the College

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As a new academic year begins, the Student Support & Referral Team (SSRT) begins its fifth year of providing assistance to the students and staff of Montgomery County Community College.  Since the fall 2009 semester when SSRT began, it has evolved, grown and consistently offered the college community services for students in need.

Since its inception, SSRT has averaged 100 referrals per year.  The majority of these referrals come from faculty.  The next greatest source are students themselves who walk in at each campus’ Student Success Center wishing to speak to someone because they need help dealing with various issues in their lives.  Many of them have heard about SSRT and come in to find out if it is a place to which they can turn.  The major reasons students are referred or turn to SSRT are psychological distress, because they are seeking counseling and domestic issues.

Psychological distress covers a variety of things with stress and anxiety being in the forefront of these issues.  Striving for success in college itself is a universal cause of stress and anxiety.  When coupled with maintaining a job, keeping up with one’s life schedule and responsibilities along with things beyond our control, the probability of being stressed and anxious is greatly increased.  This is also where the domestic issues affect students.  Being a student and raising a family, caring for an elderly parent or sick child and experiencing domestic situations that affect one’s ability to properly focus on schoolwork are just some of the issues students face.

Students also come in for referrals to counseling services for various reasons.  They realize they could use extra support and SSRT gives them direction.  Hotlines and helplines, general resources and our “Community Resource Guide” are used to assist students and can be accessed by clicking on the respective tab above.

During these past four years, SSRT has also provided programming for the college and the public, partnered with several community agencies, was influential in securing a counselor for veterans one day per week at the West Campus and offered programs specifically for faculty and staff.  Entering our fifth year of operation, we plan on continuing our efforts for the benefits of our students.

(This post was written by Michael Ondo,Counselor/Advisor)

United Way 2-1-1 Service Connects People, Resources

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People living in the five county greater Philadelphia area can now access health and human services by dialing 2-1-1.

This free service helps people bypass time-consuming searches for the correct non-profit or government service by connecting them with information and referrals.  The service unites callers with various food pantries, employment services, training, affordable housing options, help with an aging parent, support groups and physical and mental health resources.

A part of the Pennsylvania 2-1-1 network, this local 2-1-1 is powered by the United Way chapters in southeastern Pennsylvania.  Besides helping those in need, the service also allows case managers to better support their client base.  Although 3-1-1 services connect Philadelphia residents to “city-wide” services, the 2-1-1 service covers health and human services in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

The phone line is open seven days a week from 8 am to 8 pm or 24 hours per day online at www.211sepa.org.

(This post written by Whitney Etter)

How to Make a Referral Page Added

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A new page has been added to our blog.  As part of our continuing effort to get information out to the public, you can now access instructions on making a referral to SSRT by clicking on the “Make a Referral” tab above.

This information has always been available by going through the portal on the college’s website.  Anyone who is a part of the college could do so.  However, parents, friends, co-workers, etc. may want to get help for someone who they know is a student at the college.  High school guidance counselors, after discussing options with their student, may want to let SSRT know that the student will be looking to make a connection once they matriculate to Montgomery County Community College.  The new student may want to contact SSRT.  Now all these people can follow these instructions and make a referral.  By adding this page we feel we have expanded our reach and provided more of an opportunity for our services to be utilized by our students.  We hope you will take a look at it and find it a positive addition.

Bringing Attention to the Use and Abuse of Substances

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Probably everyone in America would agree that drug usage is widespread in our country.  When the subject of drug usage comes up, most of us may only be considering illicit drugs.  However, further consideration leads us to see that there is a huge part of our society also using prescription and over-the-counter drugs.  The use of substances, legal and illegal, has become pervasive in all aspects of our society.  As with just about anything from edible items to credit card usage to substances, the possibility of abusing something is very real.  Today we see people dependent upon illegal drugs, prescription drugs and also over-the-counter drugs.  On Tuesday, February 5, 2013, the Student Support & Referral Team (SSRT) is sponsoring three programs concerned with all of these.

“The Dangers & Consequences of Substance Use & Abuse” is the topic of a program that will be offered from 12:30 to 2 PM in the Community Room in South Hall at the West Campus.  Dickie Noles, former major league pitcher and presently the Employee Assistance Professional for the Philadelphia Phillies will be the speaker.  Later in the afternoon, Mr. Noles will meet with the Faculty at the West Campus to discuss recognizing the warning signs of substance use.  By being aware of the signs, we can be better prepared to refer students for help.

From 7 to 9 PM on the evening of February 5, a panel discussion entitled, “An Open Discussion of Substance Use & Abuse”,  will be held in the Community Room.  Open to the public, the participants on the panel will be Mr. Noles, Beth Folks, Clinical Coordinator at Eagleville Hospital, SGT Michael Markovich, Detective with the Pottstown Police Department, and Robert Frankil, Registered Pharmacist.  Mr. Frankil is the owner of both Skippack and Sellersville Pharmacies.

The programs are free.  Registration for the evening program will begin at 6:30 PM on February 5, 2013.  South Hall is located at 101 College Drive in Pottstown, PA.  For more information or to register ahead of time, please contact Michael Ondo, Counselor, at mondo@mc3.edu.

We hope you willl be able to attend this most informative evening.  please bring a friend and share this information with whomever you feel would benefit.

Something Positive From the Negative

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Columbine, Aurora, Tuscon, Virginia Tech and now Newtown will forever be linked together as places where the unimaginable happened.  Even though they are places where so much good happens everyday, from now on their mention will cause people to remember that something tragic took place there.  We should also remember however, that within all that horror, positive things happened too.

Unfortunately, there are far too many other places where tragedy has also taken place leaving us to wonder, “What is becoming of our society?” and “Why would someone do such a thing?”  These and other questions will, once again, become the catalysts for opinions about gun control, mental health issues, video games, movies, television, parenting and other issues.  While our society needs to work toward preventing and trying to end such horrific events, in this space, at this time, we recognize something positive that came out of what happened.  That positive is how people helped other people.

In spite of the impression that people will not help or care about others, once again, in the face of tremendous adversity, people helped other people.  Some helped people they did not even know.

Whether it was brave teachers who only cared about keeping children safe, EMTs doing what they could to save a life, police officers trying to stop what was happening, clergy and funeral directors helping families get through it all or counselors helping people cope with the aftermath, people helped each other.

In every incident that has taken place across our great country some people performed acts of heroism and some simply provided a hug.  Regardless, the acts were between two or more people.  And each act provided some amount of solace to another human being.  Each one was a person helping another person.  People do care about other people and that is something that is very positive.

(This post written by Michael Ondo, Counselor)

Mental Health Concerns Among College Students

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Most of us think of college as an exciting time of life.  It’s a time of new beginnings and of pursuing long-awaited hopes and dreams.  Indeed, college is a place where all these things can happen.  However, the demographic landscape of college and universities today presents a different picture than it did 10 years ago.

In addition to a student population that is much more diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, socio-economic background, and age, institutions of higher learning are also admitting students who are overwhelmed and more prone to mental health concerns than those of previous years.  That is to say, the number of college students with mental health disorders, whether diagnosed or not, has been increasing.  The American College Health Association (2012) reported the following from their most recent national survey:  31.6% of students felt so depressed that it was difficult to function within the last 12 months, 61.9% felt very sad, 86.8% felt overwhelmed by all they had to do, 46.5% felt things were hopeless, 51.3% felt overwhelming anxiety, and 7.5% seriously considered suicide.  This is not the “typical” picture that normally comes to mind when one thinks of the contemporary college student, but it is a realistic picture.

This situation has left many wondering what can be done to address mental health concerns among college students and make campuses nationwide healthier, happier communities.  Perhaps the best way to deal with this situation is a comprehensive approach to support students with mental health concerns.  Institutions of higher education should consider expanding campus-wide education programs about mental health issues and treatment available on campus and in the community.  Further, colleges and universities should examine their current levels of funding and personnel for key offices, such as counseling centers, services for students with disabilities, and other programs that may have a stake in serving this student population.  The Student Support and Referral Team here at Montgomery County Community College is an example of a program founded to address the needs of these students and the college community at large.  Institutions may have to consider increasing personnel and budget lines in these areas to ensure student needs are met.  Also, post-secondary institutions may need to examine their relationships with community mental health agencies and providers and establish or strengthen partnerships, as the case may dictate.

If steps like these are taken to make certain that students with mental health concerns are served well in all areas of college life, perhaps those bleak numbers cited above will begin to drop.  In the end, a college campus is a community, and we all have a stake in this matter.  A step toward growth for one is a step toward growth for us all.

American College Health Association (2012). American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment:  Reference group executive summary spring 2012. Baltimore: American College Health Association

(This post written by Joseph Kornoski, Counselor)

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