Wellness Center helps students find healthy lifestyle

By Gus Bode

Factoid:To learn more about the Wellness Center, call 453-4410.

It’s not enough for students to do well in school, they need to do well in life as well. That’s the premise behind the Wellness Center of SIU Student Health Programs.

Chris Labyk, assistant director of Student Health Programs, said the Wellness Center provides students with skills they need to be healthy.

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The Wellness Center is a division of Student Health Programs that assists students with lifestyle decisions so they make healthy, responsible choices, Labyk said.

Anda Ercum, a graduate assistant for the Wellness Center in the Sexuality Education program, said the Wellness Center provides students counseling and education in a variety of health issues.

It’s helpful to have somebody that you can talk to, work through your issues and find your own best solution, Ercum said. You may also learn new skills.

The Wellness Center provides individual consultation in the area of nutrition, sexuality education, stress management, alcohol and drug education and medical self-care.

Ercum has worked with students in stress management and in alcohol and drug education. However, she currently works with students who have issues with sexuality and relationships.

We see people who have issues with pregnancy, HIV and relationships, including gay and lesbian sexual issues, Ercum said. Another issue we commonly see is STDs.

The Student Health Assessment Center (SHAC), located in the Student Center provides students with health education.

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Through SHAC, students may also have their blood pressure or body fat checked. They can also use a computerized health program.

The computerized health education programs are available on CD-ROM at SHAC, the Wellness Outreach Office in Trueblood Hall Room 106 and the Sports Medicine Office, located at the Recreation Center.

Diet Analysis Plus is a program that determines a student’s nutritional needs. Sex in the CD increases awareness of a student’s sexual choices. Alcohol 101 allows students to visit a virtual bar and determine their blood-alcohol levels. Uppers, Downers, All Arounders addresses drug and alcohol abuse. Finally, AIDS 101 provides education concerning protection against HIV/AIDS.

The Wellness Center has two outreach offices that provide nurse consultation on a walk-in basis.

This is for students who are not sure they’re ill enough to be treated by a medical provider, Labyk said, or if they need information or over-the-counter medication.

This past year, the Wellness Center has made more than 400 presentations. The speaker’s bureau responds to requests for presentations and gives presentations for campus groups, organizations, classrooms and residence halls.

The Wellness Center also features The Oasis, located at 106 Trueblood Hall. The Oasis has a relaxation room in which students may be assessed for stress levels. They also may relax in a massage chair listening to soothing audiotapes.

According to the National College Health Assessment, which is a survey conducted by the American College Health Association, the No. 1 health problem found to interfere most with doing well at school is stress, Labyk said.

The Wellness Center was started 24 years ago when lifestyle choices were recognized to be significant factors in individuals’ current health problems.

Since that time, the center has worked in cooperation with the physicians of Student Health Services.

I think the physicians are seeing wellness and health education as integral part of the Health Service visit, Labyk said. We get quite a few referrals from the physicians.

Ercum assures students they may feel comfortable about receiving services from the Wellness Center.

Our services are free, and they are confidential, Ercum said, and students are welcome to come.

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