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Health outreach programs unknown to students

By Sandra McGill | Staff Reporter

Georgia State offers a wealth of health outreach activities aimed at keeping students healthy.

The problem is, many students don’t know about them.

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Free HIV testing and “The Great American Smoke Out,” an event geared toward tobacco cessation, are just some of the things offered by the Department of Student Health Promotion (DSHP) this fall.

Still, the message that activities are available doesn’t seem to be getting to students.

“I actually haven’t heard anything about it,” said Khristian Pena, a sophomore studying computer information systems

“Me neither,” said brother Kevin, a freshman majoring in accounting.

Take Back the Night and The Vagina Monologues, two events highlighting women’s issues, each had about 50 people in attendance this spring, according to Melissa Cyril, a graduate research assistant with DSHP working toward her master’s degree in public health. In a student body of roughly 32,000, however, these numbers appear small.

Activities held in common areas where students can drop by, like the DUI Simulation event held at Unity Plaza on August 30, seem to draw more students.

“For these events we just have people streaming in all day, pretty much,” Cyril said. “I mean we hardly have a moment when no one’s here! There’s usually someone trying the simulator or the beer goggles.”

Tyra Adams, a freshman studying psychology, enjoys the interactive format of these activities. The fact that students don’t need to seek them out, because the activities are brought to them, likely contribute to higher attendance.

Other methods, like posting links to descriptions of events on the DSHP Website, may not be getting the message across to students that services exist.

“I don’t know as much as [our advertisement] is word-of-mouth,” said Dr. Jill Lee-Barber, Director of Psychological and Health Services.

“Like when we go [present information to student groups] we have a slide that shows the three areas: the clinic, student health promotion, and the counseling center, and say what the services are to students,” Lee-Barber said.

She expresses that her “ears are open” to suggestions on changing the department’s advertising techniques.

Students have their own ideas on their preferred – and not-so-preferred – methods of receiving health promotion information.

“I don’t want like a lecture or anything!” Brittany Scott, a freshman studying political science, said. “Brochures don’t really work well either, because nobody really wants to read anything.”

Others like the convenience of email, where they can browse through messages at their leisure and file them away, or simply hit the delete button. Still others prefer social media.

Lee-Barber encourages students to be proactive, however, and not rely solely on the University to drop information into their laps.

“A lot of times students don’t know how many good things there are at Georgia State. We don’t always know everything because it’s such a big campus,” Lee-Barber said. “We (the DSHP) have to take responsibility for how we get the material out. But there’s another piece, which is [that] students also have to care about themselves enough to take care of their health.”

 

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