UWRF participates in health survey to identify student needs
October 15, 2009
In an effort to better understand what factors have negative effects on students’ GPAs, the National College Health Survey was administered to 3,000 American students from across the United States.
Some of the negative issues affecting students GPAs are health issues, non-school related computer use, video games, television and alcohol and drug use, according to the survey results.
“We try to track trends over time and in-between surveys,” Alice Reilly-Myklebust, director of Student Health Services and Counseling Services, said. “We use the data and try to make a difference.”
The National College Health Assessment is a 58-question survey that began in 1999. The survey relates risks and behaviors associated with general health; alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; sexual behavior and contraception; mental and physical health; and body image, nutrition, and exercise, according to Student Health Behavior and Risk data.
“It’s a nice survey because it asks a variety of questions,” Reilly-Myklebust said.
This spring, the survey was sent to 3,000 students, with 517 responding for a response rate of 17.23 percent. Once the survey is taken the participants are placed in a drawing to win a $50 Amazon.com
gift card. Last year, four gift cards were given, Reilly-Myklebust said.
“It is hard with online surveys,” she said. “It is hard to get students to participate.”
The 2009 National Assessment questions focused more on sleep and mental health issues that impact academics, according to Reilly-Myklebust.
“One thing we are definitely seeing with our data is that mental health issues are affecting student GPAs,” she said. “It has been very concerning the number of students who reported mental health issues, and it has been generally going up.”
The survey’s results allow Student Health Services to see where the campus can improve and provide resources for the students. Currently, there is a psychologist and four counselors on campus for students to utilize. Student Health and Counseling Services also offers Weekly Wellness Events Monday through Thursday this semester free to students in order to promote better mental health.
“[The survey is used] to help a student who is struggling early on,” Reilly-Myklebust said. “It’s about helping the student and to keep our campus safe.”
Being employed in addition to going to school is also having an affect on student’s GPAs. Students with jobs generally do better than those who do not work at all, according to Reilly-Myklebust.
“It is a struggle. It is asking me to go full time all the time and there is no down time [and] it’s stressful, it’s hard to focus because you are on auto mode,” UWRF student and part time employee Rebecca Claflin said. “Trying to balance everything is stressful. It’s rewarding though; it is very rewarding to me because I feel like I am accomplishing something.”
The results also show that the overall rate of binge drinking and tobacco use is gradually going down among UWRF students.
“Students typically overestimate the percent of their peers [in regards to] drinking alcohol, drug use and sex,” Reilly-Myklebust said. “A couple things we have found-and this is common in the Midwest-[is that] our students drink and drive more and chew tobacco more often [compared to the rest of the nation].”
However, in the 2009 national survey the format for asking questions changed. In the 2009 survey, if the person taking the quiz answered “no” to drinking they would then skip the remaining questions pertaining to alcohol use, so the results make it appear overall percentages have gone up, according to Reilly-Myklebust.
“You have to really look closely at the data and put it into context,” Reilly-Myklebust said.