Is Mac Well? – NCHA 2019 Survey Results
The National College Health Assessment (NCHA) was completed by a randomized sample of McMaster students, to gain a snapshot of the student population health status. From 1087 respondents, information about health behaviours, health indicators and student experience, were collected. The findings will be used to better understand the needs of the student population, to inform programming, health promotion initiatives and policies. More importantly, the results might reveal how well students take care of themselves and their wellbeing. So let’s take a sneak preview into Mac students’ health!
Wellness involves taking care of our mental well-being. The way we experience emotions and deal with stressors can either improve or worsen our mental health. In the last 12 months, ~90% of students felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do.
Building resilience is an important part of taking care of oneself1. The ability to cope with stressors, respond and bounce back from low points will contribute to mental wellness (1).
Here are some ways to work towards building resilience:
- Have confidence in yourself and your abilities (1). 81% of Mac students liked most aspects of their personality. Highlight your good bits and identify areas of improvement to work on (1).
- Build a strong support network (1). 86% of students felt that they had warm trusting relationships with others and ~84% of students felt that they belonged to a community. Creating a support network allows you to get help when you need it (1).
Remember that you are not alone! If you would like additional support, here are some resources you can access to assist you with your concerns.
Your social life and social circles also contribute to healthy living. The way you interact with others can make for safe, inclusive and accepting relationships. The survey delves into topics around relationship wellness, consent and safe sex. Consent plays a large role in safe sex and healthy relationships. It was reported that 13.7% of students experienced sexual touching without their consent. In order to make any interaction consensual and safe, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Openly communicate and verbalize whether you are comfortable or ask the other individual if they are comfortable with whatever is happening (2).
- Respecting boundaries. Just because someone does not say ‘no’, it does not mean they have said ‘yes’ and given consent (2).
- Ask for consent regularly. Consent for a previous activity is not consent for a current activity (2).
If you are a survivor and require support or would like to support someone, you can refer to some of the resources below.
- SACHA (professional counselling, 24/7 phone support line)
- WGEN (peer support)
- Sexual Violence Prevention and Response (connections to academic accomodations, counselling services, and more)
Drinking and partying is a large part of post-secondary culture. The question is, are we safe with our social drinking habits?
When looking at practices amongst students…
- 65.8% keep track of drinks consumed
- 82.5% eat before drinking
- 89.6% stay with the same friends when drinking
While students are using harm reduction strategies to stay safe, healthy drinking is more than that. It is also important to reflect on and think about alcohol consumption. When asked about actual use and perceived use of alcohol, students had very different answers.
Fact: Only 64.2% of students used alcohol in the last 30 days. Interestingly, 92.9% of students perceived that alcohol was consumed by a typical student in the last 30 days. What does this mean? Students think their peers drink much more than they actually do.
Well, why does this matter? Some studies have suggested that perceived use can be linked to actual use of alcohol (3,4). For instance, a student may be encouraged to drink more if they feel that is the norm or if it allows them to fit in (5).
Given all this information, try reflecting on your drinking habits, if you do drink.
- Why do you drink?
- What influences whether you drink or not?
- How often do you drink?
- How much do you drink?
Aspects of students’ lifestyles. were captured through questions about their vegetable/fruit intake, exercise regimen and sleep schedule.
|Recommended by Canadian guidelines||McMaster students|
|Number of servings of fruits and vegetables per day||Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits6||8.4% of respondents consumed 5 or more servings per day|
|Moderate-intensity cardio or aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes||150 minutes (30 minutes 5 days a week)7||16.5% of respondents exercised for more than 30 minutes 5-7 days a week|
|Sleeping and feeling rested for the past 7 days||7-9 hours are recommended per night8||11.4% of respondents felt rested for 6+ days a week|
Sometimes it can be hard to maintain a good and balanced lifestyle with the demands of a school year. But maintaining a well balanced diet and sleep schedule gives you more energy and ability to be able to tackle those assignments! Start with small changes to make your lifestyle a little healthier everyday.
- To incorporate more vegetables, cut up vegetables and refrigerate or freeze them for ease in preparing simple meals (6).
- Join a weekly community exercise group or walk to school everyday (7).
- Practice sleep hygiene, like sleeping at a consistent time and turning off electronic devices 30 minutes before sleeping (8).
Overall, McMaster students are looking out for themselves but can definitely work towards improving their overall health and wellness. Take time to care for yourself!
By: Harshini Ramesh
- Mental Health for Life – CMHA National [Internet]. CMHA National. 2019 [cited 12 August 2019]. Available from: https://cmha.ca/documents/mental-health-for-life
- Santos-Longhurst A. Guide to Consent [Internet]. Healthline. 2018 [cited 12 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/guide-to-consent#asking-for-consent
- Martens M, Page J, Mowry E, Damann K, Taylor K, Cimini M. Differences Between Actual and Perceived Student Norms: An Examination of Alcohol Use, Drug Use, and Sexual Behavior. Journal of American College Health. 2006;54(5):295-300.
- Perkins H. Social norms and the prevention of alcohol misuse in collegiate contexts. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Supplement. 2002;(s14):164-172.
- Christensen S, Bewick B, Bryant L, Skriver M, Høybye M. Student and staff perceptions of alcohol as part of student life in Denmark: A Q methodology study. PLOS ONE. 2018;13(10):e0205923.
- Healthy food choices – Canada’s Food Guide [Internet]. Food-guide.canada.ca. 2019 [cited 12 August 2019]. Available from: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-food-choices/
- Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines [Internet]. Csep.ca. [cited 12 August 2019]. Available from: http://csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_0-65plus_en.pdf
- Are Canadian adults getting enough sleep? Infographic – Canada.ca [Internet]. Canada.ca. 2019 [cited 12 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/canadian-adults-getting-enough-sleep-infographic.html