A Fresh Approach to Mental Health Programming at University of Hartford: Fresh Check Day

A Fresh Approach to Mental Health Programming at University of Hartford: Fresh Check Day

Nick Pinkerton, PsyD., Director and Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Emily Newbury, MS, Practicum Student, UHart’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Connecticut, U.S – May 2017 – The rainy day didn’t stop University of Hartford (UHart) students from checking-in on their mental health at UHart’s second Fresh Check Day held on April 12, 2017, featured in Fox 61’s recent news story. In fact, 150 attendees visited the Gengras South Cafeteria from 12pm-3pm to participate in engaging activities centered on peer-to-peer education, mental health, and suicide prevention.

“Everything is interactive and the stuff you learn you can take with you. It is great how each station represents a different component of your well-being,” said a UHart Senior participating in her first Fresh Check Day.

Fresh Check Day is an uplifting mental health fair that builds a campus community around mental health and suicide prevention through engaging peer-to-peer education. It creates an approachable atmosphere where students are encouraged to engage in dialogues about mental health, and it helps to build a bridge between students and the mental health resources that exist on campus, in the community, and on a national level.

Here’s what the Jordan Porco Foundation’s (JPF) board member, Michael Kuziak, Chief Operating Officer at LAZ Parking, shared about his experience participating in Fresh Check Day with his son: “Fresh Check Day at University of Hartford; what an amazing afternoon of wellness, fun, food, and support! The UHart community, along with the Jordan Porco Foundation, did an amazing job hosting the event. JPF’s signature event is a much-needed platform of support to students who may be feeling overwhelmed with college. Focusing on mental health in a festival-like atmosphere, the students had a great time while being able to comfortably express their concerns and anxieties.”

Michael Kuziak and his son at UHart’s second Fresh Check Day

A UHart Freshman experienced this firsthand, “I didn’t know we have all of these available resources on campus. It was great to learn about them, and I had fun!”

UHart’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) finds exceptional value in hosting Fresh Check Day on campus, “It’s community outreach that really focuses on students’ whole health and well-being. It is engaging for the students, and gives us a chance to connect with them in a more accessible way,” said CAPS Practicum Student, Emily Newbury, MS.

Students that participated in the various booth activities completed a survey at the end to assess their experience and what they learned:

  • 75% said they are more aware of the warning signs of suicide
  • 84% said they are more prepared to help a friend in need
  • 88% said they are more aware of mental health resources available
  • 87% said they are more comfortable talking about mental health & suicide
  • 83% said they are more likely to ask for help if experiencing distress

Students complete surveys after participating in and completing activities at each of the Fresh Check Day booths. Survey numbers like these and student testimonials show how Fresh Check Day is making a difference on college campuses across the U.S.

“Many times people with mental health issues feel alone and stay silent because of stigma. This event is inviting and brings students together. It changes the landscape in a beautiful, stigma-free, way,” said a UHart Junior.

Fresh Check Day is the Jordan Porco Foundation’s signature program. One of their primary goals is to “change the landscape” of mental health and suicide prevention programming, to meet young adults where they are, engaging and reaching more young adults across the nation.

What started as one Fresh Check Day in 2012 has grown to 146 Fresh Check Days at more than 100 colleges and universities in 33 states to date. Fresh Check Day has impacted more than 40,000 college students thus far.  In 2017 alone, the Jordan Porco Foundation will hold over 100 Fresh Check Days nationwide.

Nick Pinkerton, PsyD., Director and Licensed Clinical Psychologist, CAPS said, “In light of the growing mental health challenges faced by college students today, it is incredibly important to find innovative strategies for engaging, informing, and empowering our campus communities to recognize warning signs, effectively intervene, and promote enhanced mental health and wellness.  I am extremely grateful to the Jordan Porco Foundation for their support and look forward to hosting future Fresh Check Days here at the University of Hartford in the years to come!”

About the Jordan Porco Foundation

The Jordan Porco Foundation is a 501(c) (3) public charity. Their mission is to prevent suicide, promote mental health, and create a message of hope for young adults. They accomplish this by providing engaging and uplifting peer-run programs on college campuses. Their programs strive to start a conversation about mental health that reduces stigma while encouraging help-seeking and supportive behaviors. They’ve received multiple testimonies that prove their work is saving young adult lives. Most people are surprised to learn that suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 15-24. Suicide rates are at their highest in 30 years. Prevention programs like theirs need your support more than ever.

Learn more

Visit www.jordanporcofoundation.org. We’re in it for life™, you can be, too. Follow the Jordan Porco Foundation on social media: Twitter – @JMPMF | Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn – Jordan Porco Foundation.


Rachel Papke | 860.904.6041 | rpapke@jordanporcofoundation.org

Marisa Giarnella-Porco | 860.904.6041 | mgiarnella-porco@jordanporcofoundation.org