The University Record, April 23, 2001

UHS’ Campbell aims to help U-M students live healthier lives

By Nancy L. Kuharevicz

Campbell. Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services
Yolanda Campbell is a woman with a mission.

As director of Health Promotion and Community Relations and associate director of University Health Service (UHS), Campbell aims to help members of the University community live healthier lives.

“This department is the primary resource for health promotion in the University community [for students], and we do that in a variety of ways,” Campbell says.

Last year, Health Promotion and Community Relations gave away more than 135,000 copies of 80 different health education brochures and handouts on such topics as how to use a condom, the dangers of GHB and Rohypnol, depression, eating disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, and spring break safety. The department also publishes the UHS Health Bulletin, a health education newsletter distributed to more than 12,000 faculty and staff.

In addition, Campbell oversees a broad range of educational efforts that include campaigns to try to alter dangerous behaviors such as the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, and a so-called “social norms marketing” message informing U-M students that 76 percent of their peers don’t smoke. The department also offers HIV counseling and testing, classroom presentations, condom giveaways, and training of residence hall assistants about health trends affecting students. The department logged more than 12,000 contacts last year through these programs.

The key to the success of the department’s educational and outreach efforts, Campbell says, is collaboration—with students, parents and other University units.

“We try to be proactive rather than reactive. We want to keep the lines of communication open rather than wait until something happens to let people know we’re here,” Campbell says.

Campbell created and serves on the Student Health Advisory Council, which aims to provide a student perspective to UHS administrators on the quality of health care at the Health Service. Composed of Campbell, UHS Interim Director Robert Winfield, four undergraduate students and three graduate students, the group meets once a month to discuss such issues as accessibility and range of services, challenges posed by cultural differences, and new programs, Campbell says.

“It’s important to get consumer feedback,” Campbell says, “and 70 percent of our visitors per year are students. We have to listen to them and make sure we’re meeting their needs.”

Campbell is in the process of hiring a coordinator to consult and collaborate with faculty, staff and students on programs relating to alcohol and other drugs. The goal is to organize and centralize the activities of such campus units and groups as University Housing, fraternities and sororities, the departments of Public Safety and Athletics, the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, and Counseling and Psychological Services.

A related initiative is Promoting Alcohol Responsibility Through You (P.A.R.T.Y.), a student-led effort to provide education about alcohol’s adverse effects. Campbell’s department serves as the University’s liaison to the group, which operates with financial and administrative support from UHS and the Division of Student Affairs, according to Campbell.

P.A.R.T.Y. is sending 21st birthday cards to U-M students before their birthdays that provide information on alcohol poisoning and what to do in case of an emergency. The cards include inserts on moderate drinking, and coupons for free ice cream and food from local merchants, Campbell says.

“Alcohol is a serious issue on campus,” Campbell says. “We know we’re not going to totally prevent students from drinking, but we want to decrease their risks through continued education and new program initiatives.”