Series Teaches Students How to Seek and Destroy Stress

Workshops Introduce Relaxation Techniques and Tips

By Paul Unger

College of Staten Island students learned how to “take it easy” in 2N during the “Anxiety Week” series as the Women’s Center and the students from Nursing 410 prepared a presentation about panic attacks and what you can do to stop them.

The suicide rate among young people ages15-24 has tripled since the 1950s. There are 1,100 anxiety related suicides per year on college campuses.

People are more likely to experience the onset of an anxiety disorder during their college years than at any other time in their lives.

The responsibilities of young adult life coupled with the free-flowing structure of college affects students’ mental health for the worst year after year.

“There’s a high performance aspect of being in college in terms of grades, competition for doing well, and the thought of future jobs,” said Dr. Kim Montagnino, who works full-time at the Counseling Center at the College of Staten Island.

“For new students, it has to do with being in an atmosphere they haven’t been in before.”

Montagnino said that when these factors all culminate at once it creates a breeding ground for anxiety.

She stresses that the jump from high school to college can be shocking to students and that some college students have trouble adjusting to the absence of family oversight.

The interns at the office screened an animated clip of how it feels to have a panic attack.

And in a slide show, they showed that attacks can happen anywhere and include signs like shortness of breath and chest pains.

How can someone stop a panic attack? Getting some fresh air, drinking water and taking deep breaths eases tension.

The interns put an emphasis on letting students know that they are not alone.

Many famous people, including Johnny Depp and Abraham Lincoln, suffered with anxiety.

The Nursing students presented the levels of stress, which are mild, moderate and severe. Students were then given surveys on how to determine what level of anxiety they had.

Isabella, a yoga instructor at CSI who teaches free classes in 1P, came to the event to have a yoga class with the students.

Not many students participated due to shyness, but she taught the students breathing techniques such as rapid breathing.

During the class, the students also had a ten minute relaxation period where Isabella softly spoke to the them with the lights dimmed.

“All the to-do lists you have, put in the back of your mind.” said Isabella.” You’re here. Nothing can hurt you.”

Kathy Cilione, who has over 30 years of psychiatric nursing experience, works at the Counseling Center on Tuesdays and Fridays.

She is CSI’s Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, and provides medication to students when necessary.

“There is always a Counselor on Duty,” said Lisa Avila, a member of the Counseling Center support staff.

“Nobody ever gets turned away. Everything that happens here is 100 percent confidential.”

Teddy the Therapy Dog made an appearance during this year’s Anxiety Week series.

According to, playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol.

Anxiety Week, a two-part event sponsored by the CSI Women’s Center, is just one of several workshops organized by CSI to help students cope with stress and anxiety.

Mood Matters, which took place this year on November 12, is another annual event designed to get students to understand what anxiety is and how to control it in stressful times.

CSI also hires a handful of massage therapists to provide free massage therapy for students.

The CSI Counseling Center, located in Building 1A Room 109, sees about 120 students per week. Students must be registered at CSI to be eligible for counseling.

Their operating hours for the fall and spring semesters are Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Wednesday and Thursday nights are extended until 7:00 pm.

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