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College newsletter hits restrooms



Published: Sat, February 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



With attention captured, the Potty Press informs college students.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) -- Talk about a captive audience.

The counseling department at Gannon University publishes a monthly newsletter that it tapes to the inside doors of bathroom stalls. That way, students are sure to have the chance to read about counseling services.

"The idea was to put that information in a place where students would see it," said Jim Finegan, the head of the counseling center. "And that, obviously, is a place that people visit."

The Potty Press deals with issues such as eating disorders, anxiety prevention and career development and offers health screening information and illness symptoms.

Finegan said the newsletter, which has been around for a couple of years, was an outgrowth of an idea he had years ago to post job fair information in stalls.

The newsletter is just one way for college counseling departments to inform students of their services, without making the clinical work uncomfortably public.

"One of the big deals with mental health is trying to reduce the stigma," said Gerry Tobin, who directs Mercyhurst College's counseling center.

Mercyhurst's counseling center has been moved four times in seven years to find a location that wasn't too public.

"Too many people were walking by and seeing who was coming in and out. And that was a challenge for some students who wanted to come in for help," Tobin said.

Gannon students say The Potty Press is useful, especially for touchy subjects. Students can learn about a subject that they might not want passers-by to see them reading about in a public place -- such as on a hallway bulletin board.

Student Herb Karg found himself reading about sleep and depression and the "5 Elements of A Useful Goal."

"It's a good place for it," said student Becky Ensbrenner. "A lot of it is information about private things you wouldn't want to see on a public wall."




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