Top five issues in college health and SMU’s resources to deal with them

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College health is a huge field in medicine. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are currently 13 million students in the United States alone enrolled in higher education. The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that there are 27.3 college health staff for every 10,000 students enrolled in higher education. The college health staff includes physicians, nurses, assistants, psychologists, health trainers, dietitians and pharmacists.

The majority of college campuses have some sort of college health center in order to monitor and improve the quality of living of college students. Throughout the US there are many recurring college health problems plaguing campuses. The most prevalent are poor nutrition and exercise, alcohol and alcohol injuries, STDs, drug abuse (especially prescription drugs) and stress.

The SMU Health Center is an extremely comprehensive clinic that covers or at least touches on these critical health problems.

SMU has a registered dietician on campus, Lauren Hickman. Students with problems finding healthy dining options, wanting to manage their weight, or need help due to a disease, illness, or preference that affects their diet should go to her for help. On the other side, SMU also has personal trainers and packages that include a fitness orientation and fitness evaluation available at the Dedman Recreation Center. SMU fitness “offers quality fitness equipment, a positive atmosphere, and exciting classes.”

Alcohol and alcohol related injuries are a huge problem on college campuses nationwide. The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that 1,825 college students die every year from alcohol related unintentional injuries and that nearly 700,000 students are assaulted by another student under the influence of alcohol. In addition, nearly 600,000 students receive unintentional injuries while intoxicated. The SMU Health Center provides information on safe and healthy alcohol consumption. They meet and assess students looking for help regarding alcohol and alcohol abuse, and also offer some short-term counseling for students. They also seek to educate students on the dangers of underage drinking, binge drinking and alcohol abuse.

Sexually transmitted infections can be incredibly intimidating. SMU has resources to help identify STI’s. The SMU Health Center conducts tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B and C, herpes, HIV/AIDS, HPV and syphilis.

SMU’s Center for Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention offers sober living options as well as an online recovery program to help students overcome drug abuse. They also have a SMU specific recovery support meeting on Tuesdays. Located on the second floor of the Memorial Health Center, the Center for Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention offers assessments, interventions, referrals and short-term counseling.

Stress is a part of every college students’ lives. SMU has a Counseling and Psychiatric Service that covers not only stress but also a wide range of mental health issues. They have counseling services and online screenings to help evaluate how your college life has been. They cover issues that range from stress to gender issues. They offer on call hours during normal working hours and a clinician after hours for pressing mental health issues.

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