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.