The wellness survey responses shed light on students’ sexual heath practices and alcohol consumption.
Student Wellness Services (SWS) published the results of the two wellness surveys, the National College Health Assessment, and the Canadian Campus Wellbeing Survey, in February. The surveys were conducted over the winter 2022 semester, while COVID-19 restrictions were in place.
Overall, 13 per cent of students responded to the survey with 70 per cent of respondents being undergraduate students. The results provided SWS a broad snapshot of student wellness at Queen’s.
“The survey results show the health and wellbeing of Queen’s students is similar to their peers at other Canadian post-secondary institutions,” SWS Executive Director Cynthia Gibney said in a statement to The Journal.
Queen’s students had more sex than the Canadian population. Sixty-eight per cent of respondents reported having engaged in sexual activity—the Canadian average is 52 per cent.
Protective barriers were used “always or almost always” by 44 per cent of students. SWS increased access to STI testing, including running STI Quick Test Clinics.
“[SWS has] a continued focus on programming, resources, and community building for equity-deserving students continues across campus including the creation of a TransCare team and increased equity education for SWS staff, and expanded sex-positive programming,” Gibney said.
Peer-to-peer education is a longstanding part of SWS’ sexual health promotion, including a blog where students can submit anonymous questions about sex.
Substance use at Queen’s was slightly higher than the Canadian population in 2022, except when it comes to binge drinking. More than a quarter of students reported binge drinking one or more times per week. Student athletes were more likely to binge drink than other student subgroups.
Thirty-five per cent of students reported one or more negative consequence of using alcohol over the past year, with 44 per cent reporting memory loss.
“Concern remains amid student reports of binge drinking; alcohol harm reduction will remain a priority area of focus across student services,” Gibney said.
During high-risk party times, such as Homecoming, Queen’s plans to extend substance related services beyond the longstanding Campus Observation Room (COR). Initiatives include Big Breakfasts in residence, food and water giveaways, ongoing safe drinking education, and Party Goer and Party Thrower Safety Kit giveaway events, Gibney explained.
Forty-one per cent of students indicated using cannabis over the last year, with half of cannabis-using students indicating high or moderate risk use. Seventy per cent of students with C or D grades reported risky cannabis use.
Students’ top sources of stress were procrastination, personal appearance, and academics. Overall, 66 per cent of respondents indicated average or high mental wellbeing in the two weeks preceding the survey with 47 per cent reporting good abilities managing their stress.
This wasn’t the case for all students on campus. The majority—71 per cent—of gender non-conforming or trans students reported severe mental distress, and 65 per cent of students identifying as LGBTQ+ reported being lonely.
“Social and personal identities influence many aspects of wellbeing, highlighting the continued need for specific, targeted resources that support students with intersectional identities,” Gibney added.
Gibney told The Journal SWS is collaborating with other University offices, including Athletics & Recreation. SWS created a TransCare team, increased equity education for SWS staff, and expanded sex-positive programming.
In terms of new programming, the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies is launching a pilot program this fall called First-Year Learning Communities.
“The program aims to support student transition to university life, support academic skill building, enhance students’ sense of belonging […], and connect students with supportive resources on campus,” Gibney said.
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