York University students will be invited to participate in the ACHA-National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey this March to help inform the University about student experience. NCHA is a nationally recognized research survey that can assist York in collecting in-depth information about students’ health habits, behaviours and perceptions.
NCHA collects information on a wide range of health issues, including alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, sexual health, weight, nutrition and exercise, mental health, personal safety and violence. York participates in this national survey every three years with the goal of better understanding health and wellness issues facing students and creating a healthy and supportive campus.
In 2016, York’s overall NCHA participation rate was 11.9 per cent. The goal for 2019 is to increase the rate to 15 per cent.
“We recognize that health and well-being plays a significant role in students’ campus experience and academic success,” said Helen Lee, manager of well-being and health promotion at York. “The NCHA has played a large role in informing programs that support the well-being of our student community and continues to aid our efforts to enhance campus-wide health promotion and prevention services. Hearing from our students is essential to impact and benefit both current and future student experiences at York.”
Randomly selected students will receive an email invitation from the ACHA-NCHA Program Office to complete the survey between March 4 and 22. The results of this confidential survey will help the University develop health initiatives for all community members by compiling specific, relevant data that is then provided to the pan-University well-being working group. The information received will influence planning decisions in a variety of areas, from academic programs to campus services deemed important by students.
Previous data has led to the implementation of:
- York’s mental health strategy;
- York’s student alcohol strategy;
- peer health education programming;
- the Wellness Hub;
- accessible suicide safety training programs safeTALK and ASIST; and
- three additional peer programs designed to address the largest stressors for students: careers, finances and academics.
Joanne Ong is a second-year sociology student and senior lead for the Student Financial Services (SFS) Peer Team and has seen the impact of these programs first-hand.
“A big part of our job is to make students feel heard and supported. It’s not just about directing students and answering their questions,” she said. “We want to empower students so that they know they always have resources and a ready support network.”
Health education senior peer Yasmin Dini believes the peer-to-peer initiatives implemented in response to past NCHA results have been a successful way to promote wellness on campus.
“[The initiative] enables students to feel comfortable when sharing their stories and allows peer health educators to understand better as we relate with their experiences,” she said. “We help students who just need an opportunity to talk, as well as students who may need further specialized resources, to tackle topics such as nutrition, mental health, sexual health or alcohol and other drugs.”
The first 1,000 students who complete the survey will receive a $10 credit on their YU-card and the remaining participants (up to 500) will receive a $5 credit.
Students not selected to complete the NCHA survey are encouraged to provide their thoughts and feedback at yorku.ca/ncha/get-involved. All community members are welcome to provide feedback about the University’s Mental Health & Wellness initiatives using the same form.