Assessment targets student health

Health Services offers assistance to students who suffer from stress, anxiety, sleep difficulties and other illnesses. || Melissa Ruhlman/The News

The University is inviting students to participate in the 2012 National College Health Assessment.

The survey is sponsored by the American College Health Association and distributed to students by Health Services.

Judy Lyle, health educator and staff nurse for Health Services, said the survey is a way of gathering data from students across the nation to look at their health and wellness behaviors and their perceptions about their own actions and the demeanors of their peers.

The assessment is confidential and asks students to answer questions regarding their overall health such as alcohol, tobacco and drug use, how often they exercise, eating and sleeping habits and mental health history.

Lyle said the data collected allows health coordinators to target problems which exist and put the necessary resources toward addressing those particular problems, instead of trying to fix issues students do not feel are a problem.

“We want to improve the overall wellness of the community,” she said. “I believe students want to be a participant in this overall wellness. They don’t want a sick campus.”

The survey collects data from minorities and other demographic groups so services on campus such as the Counseling and Testing Center can utilize the results along with Health Services, Lyle said.

“I think it can be very beneficial when used appropriately,” she said. “The survey looks at the overall community and highlights specific groups so we can focus our resources.”

Lyle said students should be aware of things like stress, anxiety and sleep difficulties, which can lower the immune system and affect academic performance.

According to results from the 2010 NCHA assessment, 26 percent of Murray State students have never used alcohol, while 23 percent reported they have used, but not in the last 30 days at the time the survey was taken, Lyle said.

In general, 49 percent of University students are not using alcohol on a regular basis, she said.

Joanna Schmidt, sophomore from Marissa, Ill., said it makes her feel good to know the University is at least making an effort to care about students’ health, but she does not plan on participating in the assessment.

“I would consider taking it if the survey was shorter,” Schmidt said. “In the email it said it would take 30 to 40 minutes and I honestly just didn’t want to spend the time on it.”

Kimberly Mason, sophomore from Murray, said she was prompted to take the survey for the possible prizes offered by Health Services.

“One time I won a free meal plan for taking a survey related to the University,” Mason said. “After that I make sure to take all surveys from the University.”

She said she would like the assessment to clearly define what the results will be used for.

“I thought there were a lot of personal question, and I wanted to know what they wanted with the information,” Mason said.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said the feedback from students allows University officials to decide what programs should be available to students.

“It helps us know what the lifestyles of our students are,” Robertson said. “We may need to provide some support services dealing with that particular topic.”