Authored by HORAN Campus Health Solutions
Happy college students make for a happy college campus. And while many factors contribute to a person’s happiness, one’s overall health and wellness play an outsized role. From an administrative level, colleges and universities are uniquely poised to improve the health and wellness of their students, contributing to a happier student population and a more positive campus experience.
In the 2018–2019 academic year, there were approximately 22 million undergraduate students in the U.S. Among those students, only 41 percent rated their health as “very good,” and only 55 percent saw their institution as prioritizing their health and wellbeing. What would your campus population say about your health and wellness priorities and coverage?
To help tip the scales in your favor, we’re here with 5 ways your administration can improve the health and wellness of your students.
1. Offer a student health insurance plan that is economical yet comprehensive
One of the most direct and quantifiable ways to improve the health and wellness of your students is to offer a campus health insurance plan that prioritizes comprehensive coverage for services they want at a premium they can afford. Ensuring students have immediate and convenient access to quality care built around their lifestyle and needs presents for them the opportunity to take charge of their own wellbeing, and it sends a resounding message that your administration values their health and happiness.
Now, ensuring students take advantage of the health services and coverage available to them is another matter entirely. About 75 percent of students opt out of their campus health insurance plan, the reason for which could be as complex as eligibility or preference, or as simple as access to other adequate coverage or a lack of awareness. To remedy the latter, education is key. Consider informing students about their options in ways they will resonate, such as through gamification, apps, or other interactive tools. By empowering students to take advantage of healthcare services on campus, you encourage them to be proactive about their own health and, in turn, improve their overall wellbeing and that of your campus as a whole. To learn more about how to get started, download our “eGuide to a Robust Student Health Insurance Plan.”
2. Understand your students and their needs
Before you can begin exploring coverage options for your students, you must first understand who they are and what they need. Diving into the demographics of your campus is the best place to start. Aside from basic data points such as age, gender, and home zip codes, you’ll also want to consider information about student population groups (like student athletes or international students), the services currently offered at your health center, and which of those services students are and are not taking advantage of. An expert consultant can be an invaluable resource in helping you gather and analyze the data that will inform your campus health plan.
3. Prioritize mental health services
While college students have long been predisposed to mental health conditions like anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts, the coronavirus pandemic has only worsened the state of mental health among young people. As we reported in last month’s blog post, 83 percent of college students say mental health challenges affected their performance one or more days in the last month, yet more than half of students say they wouldn’t know where to go if they or someone they knew needed professional help. This alarming statistic paints a clear picture of a gap in a crucial service college students need now. By increasing the availability of mental health services on your campus—and by educating students on where and how they can access them—you’ll make a direct impact in the lives of your students and improve the health and happiness of your campus population.
4. Provide comprehensive health services that meet students where they are
Where do students spend a bulk of their time? Behind their laptops or mobile devices. Much like many students prefer virtual learning and office hours to in-person classes or visits with their professors, many also prefer telehealth visits to meeting with a healthcare provider on-site. When it comes to mental health issues especially, students are much less likely to get the care they need if they’re required to show up in person. In fact, more than two-thirds of college students say they are struggling with mental health today, yet less than 25 percent are directly seeking out care. Telehealth services can be an effective way to increase student access to healthcare services, while also combating the stigma associated with mental health care. With telehealth options, students can visit with a care provider from the privacy of home, at a convenient time between classes, work, and other responsibilities. On-campus kiosks that offer over-the-counter medications are another way to ensure students can more readily access healthcare without interrupting their busy schedules.
5. Work with a trusted adviser
Managing student health and campus programs can be complex. That’s why working with an expert you trust can be so beneficial. Consultants at HORAN Campus Health have a deep understanding of the realities that hinder student success, and access to this expert knowledge helps you provide the mental, emotional, and physical health support students need to become their best selves—all while reducing your administrative burden and lowering costs. Our experts listen to your needs, measure costs and data trends, and guide you to achieve better outcomes for a thriving campus. With the right consultant advocating for your campus, you can spend less time navigating the complexities of student health programming and insurance coverage and more time focusing on what really matters: the overall wellbeing of your students.
At HORAN Campus Health, we champion bold innovations and offer customized health plans, resources, and tools designed to improve the overall health and wellbeing of your students. Together, we can offer the holistic support students need to thrive on campus and succeed in life.
Do you need help developing and executing a strategy to improve student health and wellness on your campus? Visit our Campus Health webpage to fill out a simple contact form or get in touch with Chris Mihin, HORAN Campus Health Vice President and Managing Principal, at ChrisM@horanassoc.com or 513-702-3707.