Lawrence receives 2009 health assessment results

Erty Seidel

Lawrence University recently
received results from the 2009
National College Health Assessment,
administered by the American
College Health Association. About 31
percent of Lawrence students took
the online survey, which covered
topics such as mental health, sleep
habits, sexual health and alcohol
use. Up to 66 percent of the respondents
were female, and the results
were split evenly between the four
classes, plus a handful of fifth-year
students. The average age of testtakers
was 20.5 years.
“Our goal is to find out where
our students are in terms of health
and wellness,” said Paul Valencic,
assistant director of counseling services.
“This allows us to create a
baseline.”
The survey is compared to all
colleges that participate, not just
similar colleges. In total, 87,105 students
took the survey. However, the
comparison results were not prepared
as of this printing. The same
NCHA survey was given in November
2006.
Valencic and Beth Adamski,
health and wellness program coordinator,
will be giving presentations
on the results of the survey during
November and into the winter term.
“Our goal is to put this information
to best use,” said Valencic. “We’ll
get a better chance to explain these
results when we do the presentations.”
Overall, Lawrence students
reported being generally healthy
and happy. As many as 61.7 percent
of students said that they were
“very good” or “excellent” in terms
of overall health. This number was
much higher among males: 74 percent
compared to only 55 percent
of females.
Lawrentians reported high levels
of stress, however. Of students that
responded, 94.0 percent reported
feeling “overwhelmed” sometime
during the last 12 months. As many
as 89.6 percent reported feeling
“exhausted” – for reasons other
than physical exercise, and 51.4 percent
said that they had felt that
“things were hopeless” during that
same 12 months.
According to the survey, females
were more likely to be stressed than
males, but Valencic was unsure if
this was due to the higher number of
female respondents.
As many as 38.1 percent of all
those surveyed reported that they
had been depressed to the point that
it was difficult to function sometime
in the last 12 months. Of those surveyed,
9.2 percent said that they had
seriously considered suicide during
that time.
Not all of the results were about
stress and depression, however.
The survey reported that 50.4 percent
of Lawrentians were not in
a relationship. Additionally, most
Lawrentians reported to be within
the healthy zone for body weight, even if only 56.8 percent of males and 44.4 percent of females get the American Heart Association’s recommended amount of exercise.
According to the survey, 10-15 percent of Lawrence students never or rarely drink alcohol. However, the survey reported that students thought that this number was much lower, at only 0-3 percent.
“Most students think there is a lot more drinking happening on campus than there really is,” said Valencic.
He is concerned that since perception plays a big part in determining personal behavior, the belief that “everyone drinks” sets the stage for more students to choose to drink and – for those who do drink – drink more often and in greater amounts.
Perception of use of marijuana was also severely high. The survey respondents said they thought only about seven percent had never smoked marijuana, while the actual results purported that 50-60 percent had never smoked it.
Readers interested in more information can contact Valencic in the health and wellness center, or visit the American College Health Association’s Web site at http://www.acha.org.

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