Health assessment gives university chance to better help students

By Phoebe Alwine | Reporter

Baylor offers the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) to students in order to help educators better understand Baylor’s population. The NCHA is a national research survey that is offered by the American College Health Association.

Alyssa Petty, education and outreach coordinator at the Baylor University Wellness Center, said that the survey helps to inform universities and health educators to better understand students’ behaviors and habits.

“It provides us practitioners with an overview of what the student population is kind of going through,” Petty said.

Petty said that some issues plaguing most campuses, including Baylor’s, include stress, anxiety, depression and the cold and flu. All of which hinder academic productivity.

Baylor’s Director of Wellness Dominque Hill said the survey covers alcohol and drug use, sexual health, nutrition, exercise, mental health and personal safety and violence. While there are other surveys, the NCHA covers the broadest of topics, giving universities the most accurate results.

“The survey provides a comprehensive assessment of Baylor student’s health,” Hill said. “If the data shows certain trends, Baylor is able to respond to those trends by offering specialized support for our students.”

Petty said there is a true importance for Baylor students to participate in this survey. While it does take approximately 25 minutes, educators on Baylor’s campus collect the data and use it to form programs designated to helping the lives of students.

“We try our best to create programs and services to accommodate students or anyone who takes the test,” Petty said.

Petty said the reason Baylor implemented the survey is to find common themes among students and use the data collected to create a safe place for students.

“[The survey] is unique to Baylor,” Petty said. “We want to make sure that all of our programs and services are actually serving our students, we want to make sure it’s intentional programming.”

Baylor’s initial run of the NCHA was in Oct. of 2019 and ran for about four weeks. Petty said that while no new programs have been implemented on campus yet, the Wellness Center plans on creating safe programs for students in the future. She said with the data received from the first survey, the counseling center can distinguish if they need to hold more hours based on the students’ schedules or mentalities.

“We look forward to making this a bi-annual thing, that way we can get a great response from students,” said Petty.

Petty said results of the survey cannot be traced back to a single student, giving students the ability to answer the questions honestly, and the survey can be answered online through Baylor University once the survey becomes available again.