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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 28, 2004

New Web-based Health Resources Made Available To Students

Student Health Service (SHS) and University Counseling Service (UCS) have teamed up to make two additional Web-based resources available to University of Iowa students on their Web sites.

The first is a college mental health Web site, www.Ulifeline.com, a nationwide online behavioral support system for young adults. The second is a Web site designed for college-age women, www.4CollegeWomen.org.

For years, SHS and UCS have provided UI students with a wealth of Web-based resources regarding issues such as nutrition, alcohol and drug use, exercise, sexual activity, body image and mental illness.

In the comfort of their own residence halls or apartments, students can access the SHS and UCS web sites to download information on various ailments, take quizzes, ask questions and even screen themselves for depression, eating disorders, anxiety and alcoholism.

According to Sarah Hansen, Health Iowa coordinator, the SHS Web site averages half a million visits per year.

"The site traffic is very heavy," Hansen said. "I think it helps students recognize that this is credible information, unlike a lot of the information out there not based on sound practice."

Sam Cochran, director of UCS, agrees. "There's a lot of junk on the Internet. Having professionals review these resources and link the sites gives the students a sense of assurance."

Cochran and Hansen believe that www.Ulifeline.com and www.4collegewomen.org are well documented, well researched Web sites that will be of assistance to UI students.

The www.Ulifeline.org site was launched by the Jed Foundation, an organization founded by the parents of a 20-year-old University of Arizona sophomore who committed suicide in 1998.

The site customizes to the needs of UI students by directing them to either SHS or UCS. It also allows students to download information about various mental illnesses, ask questions and research suicide prevention resources anonymously.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, and the rate of suicide among this age group has tripled over the past 30 years.

"A lot of mental illnesses make themselves known during this time," Hansen said. "If left untreated, there is a higher risk for suicide."

Cochran estimates that 20 percent of the average 2,030 students seen each year by UCS have suicidal thoughts, ranging from fleeting to more severe.

UCS's staff of 12 Ph.D-level psychologists and three psychology interns provides short-term individual, group and couples counseling to students. Last year, they conducted 7,400 sessions, and Cochran estimates that one-third of their contacts experience some kind of depression.

The site www.4CollegeWomen.org is accessible to the estimated seven million women in college today.

The Web site was established at Brandeis University and provides free access to thousands of reliable resources about a range of health issues concerning women, including safety and violence issues, reproductive health information and substance abuse prevention. Additionally, it provides current women's health news and listings for health career opportunities.

"Having a site designed by college women for college women is a unique approach to making sure that some critical health questions get answered accurately," Hansen said.

For more information, students can log on to www.uiowa.edu/~shs or www.uiowa.edu/~ucs.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at http://www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, (319) 335-8032, david-pedersen@uiowa.edu; Writer: Christine Nicholson