Wealth of information available for students' concerns
Health & awareness
Issue date: 7/8/05 Section: News
Research indicates that college students are experiencing more health problems than they were a decade ago. According to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) 32 percent of students experienced stress as the top impediment to academic performance in 2003. Additionally, 16 percent of female and nine percent of male students were diagnosed with depression, of which only six percent received professional treatment. Many students are afraid to seek help or even talk about these problems because of the stigma surrounding mental health.
NMHA is one of several organizations which have originated with the purpose of fighting the stigma attached to mental health problems, recognition, and treatment options. NMHA sponsors a campus based initiative called Musicians for Mental Health, commonly referred to the public as 'mpower'. This shared effort among local and national artists, youth leaders, university officials and mental health advocates promote awareness of the leading mental health issues faced among college students and strategies to cope with and combat these issues. The most common mental health issues according to NMHA include "depression, substance abuse, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide."
The American College Health Association operates Healthy Campus 2010 which has established a guide for colleges to improve students' health. The leading health concerns recognized by ACHA include physical activity, overweight and obesity, tobacco use, substance abuse, responsible sexual behavior, mental health, injury and violence, environmental quality, immunization, and access to health care.
Fortunately, the University's Office of Counseling and Health is capable of providing student assistance within each of these areas. For students that prefer face to face interaction, the Office is open for consultations weekdays and can be done in various formats whether individually, couples, or crisis counseling, support groups or through referral. Students will be relieved to know that their confidentiality and privacy is of utmost respect. This promise is strongly adhered to and enforced to protect the student and the issues discussed.
For students with questions or concerns that prefer less interaction, OCH's web site provides a wealth of information. In addition to proving helpful links about alcohol and other drugs, health education, online screenings for mental health, sexual assault, and organizations which tie into issues faced by college students - the site has several counseling and health presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint that can be used aside from the guided workshops they provide.
OCH also hosts several events throughout the year to educate students on the risks of various health related concerns. "The Spring Student Health Fair is the largest and our Office's highlight event of the year," health education coordinator Tiffany Gallagher. The fair, typically held in May, covers a wide spectrum of issues involving alcohol, eating right, nutrition and fitness. Director of Alcohol, Other Drug and Health Education and Assistant Director of Counseling John Watson explained the uniqueness of this fair in its promotion of healthy behavior by focusing on how to do things correctly rather than on what attendants are doing wrong.
Required educational workshops run frequently for athletics, greek organizations and residential life which generally focus on the topics of alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases, and hazing. These workshops, along with other ones dealing with stress, building self-esteem, healthy eating habits, and substance abuse are available by request for any group affiliated with the University. A program offered for teachers in substitution of canceling class when they cannot attend is "Don't Cancel That Class" in which an advisor or student leader will guide the class through a workshop dealing with any of the above referenced categories.
A more interactive and engaging approach OCH takes towards educating students on the risks of substance experimentation and abuse is Blue Beats a dance party held durring New Student Days. This event is held primarily for the incoming freshmen and is also open to the entire student body. With the look and feel of any dance club Blue Beats provides a unique and important message. During the night certain students begin to stand out in the crowd as they confirm their involvement with drugs through their actions and even pass out samples of these substances to the crowd. Unknown to the attendees, these students are staffed to simulate the effects of certain substances and to familiarize them with the packaging to look out for in an unprotected club setting. The reaction from the crowd to the staffed simulators hits a wide range from "I'm calling the police" or feelings of anger, confusion, and offense to "Cool, free drugs" which shows the diversity of the student body and the necessity for guidance and support.
From any issue that students feel an outside opinion would benefit in reaching the resolution, OCH encourages them to visit their office, call the Peer Counseling helpline, attend sponsored workshops, spring health fair or social events. The professional staff offers an abundance of helpful, educational services and advice for every situation regardless of its seriousness and possible complications.
For more information about OCH visit www.drexel.edu/studentlife/ch.