Healthy Students Graduate Faster

Healthy Students Graduate Faster

Academic success and health go hand-in-hand. By making sure our students are physically and emotionally healthy, we better prepare them to graduate in four years alongside their classmates. That helps them save money on education expenses, get a head start in their professional careers, and build a solid foundation for good health.

A recent survey shows that 54 percent of student withdrawals from campus were attributable to mental health, medical, or personal concerns. That’s one big reason why we are creating the CARE Program (Counselors in Academic Residence) to place mental health professionals in several of the advising offices on campus. These professionals will help students who might not be reaching their full academic potential due to stress, personal concerns, or emotional and mental health issues. These counselors will meet individually with students and support groups, as well as with advisors and deans. A major goal is to educate students, faculty, and staff about how emotional fitness affects students’ academic performance.

For 74 years, the Counseling and Mental Health Center has provided individual, group, and crisis counseling; psychiatric consultations; and prevention programs that facilitate students’ academic and life goals. The center also has a telephone crisis line. The services are affordable: students only pay $5 for each individual, psychiatric, or couples counseling appointment. And these programs are working. A survey showed that 88 percent of clients who were initially considering a withdrawal reported that CMHC services helped them remain in school.

University Health Services is another avenue for our students to stay healthy, helping them succeed academically. Like CMHC, most office visits at UHS are also just $5. UHS accepts most types of insurance and provides significant self-pay discounts for uninsured students to prevent cost from being a barrier to students accessing healthcare. A free, 24-hour Nurse Advice Line provides a safety net for students around the clock. During the 2012–13 academic year, students made 59,500 appointments for general medicine, women’s health, sports medicine, urgent care, integrated health, physical therapy, and nutrition services.

The Health Promotion Resource Center within UHS helps our students get and stay healthy. Their outreach staff focuses on priority campus health issues, including nutrition, body image, physical activity, hydration, prescription drug abuse, healthy sexuality, sleep, and high-risk drinking.

UHS staff is also tuned in to the academic rhythms of campus. A recent survey showed that nearly 15 percent of students suffered a negative academic impact in the last 12 months due to colds, flu, and sore throats. UHS provides flu shot clinics across campus alongside a public information campaign each fall to immunize approximately 10,000 students, faculty, and staff. Almost 90 percent of patients agreed that their visit to UHS helped prevent a health concern from being a barrier to their academic performance.

By working to ensure that our students are healthy and supported during their university experience, we’re not only helping them to graduate in four years but also to acquire the life skills they need to go out there and change the world.

Gage E. Paine, PhD ’96, is UT’s vice president for student affairs. 




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