Public Health at SJU Stephen Fera


The goal of this textbook is to provide a cohesive summary of public health involvement at Saint Joseph's University. The next four lessons in this chapter will educate you on four different aspects of public health at the university: defining public health, public health risks at a university, student outreach programs and resources, and public health academic pursuits. This comprehensive work allows the reader to be fully educated on the scope of public health programs at a university, their implementation, and their effects on the university community. Answering essential questions on the existence, importance, and effectiveness of public health at a university, using Saint Joseph's University as the model, is the goal of this chapter.

When you're at school, take a look around. Is there a nurse? A therapist? Is there a special educator? These individuals and programs are a part of an important resource for students. They are a part of public health.


Before we begin, the question you are probably asking yourself right now is:

what is Public Health?

Public health includes a wide array of resources. As explained in an article from PR Newswire in 2008, "Public health battles range from containing deadly contagious diseases to pushing for healthier lifestyles, from reducing incidences of preventable diseases to minimizing the consequences of catastrophic events, from providing the basics of sanitation to safe food and water."

"Public health is, by definition, focused on the health of populations." -Dr. Brent Moloughney

Apart from health care and general wellness, a large focus of public health includes drug and alcohol addiction. While most students encounter public health initially through special educators and counselors and therapists at their elementary and secondary institutions, a college campus offers a more comprehensive breadth of services and programs.

Public health encompasses a wide array of services and concerns
Public health is diverse and in variety in program goals. So, what are some of the public health programs you might already have encountered at school?
  • Special Education professional
  • Nurse
  • School Counselor or Therapist
  • College/Career advisor
"While a doctor treats people who are sick, those of us working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place. We also promote wellness by encouraging healthy behaviors." - the American Public Health Association

How about outside of the classroom? What are some important Public Health resources that you may know of?

Primarily, those within specialized health services and healthcare professionals fall under the purview of public health. This includes special therapy programs and services for the disabled, those with mental illnesses, and individuals who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or have experienced a traumatizing event, such as sexual assault.

The goal of these therapeutic programs is to promote a healthy and stable lifestyle

As mentioned earlier, a large part of public health is linked to drug and alcohol abuse.

There are many different types of programs that aim at helping recovering addicts. Addiction and recovery are a big part of public health and its objective to create better communities and families.

Types of services for addiction recovery:

  • Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous: Group therapy and support sessions; AA has a 13 step plan for participants to follow throughout the program.
  • Outpatient services: specialized health programs that assist the patient outside of the facility or hospital.
  • Inpatient services/partial hospitalization: more intensive care for individuals, especially those who require medically assisted treatment (MAT).
  • Methadone/MAT clinics: specialized clinics that provide patents with their prescribed medication treatment.
  • Halfway House: in conjunction with the above services, a halfway house is a living space for recovering addicts to re-educate themselves on self-reliance, personal hygiene, and personal management. Simply put, halfway houses help these individuals get back on their feet.

lesson review:

Review Questions:

  1. What is public health?
  2. What is the objective of public health?
  3. Describe the variety of public health programs and services.
  4. Why is public health so important? Who benefits from public health?

Important vocabulary to know:

  • Public Health
  • Addiction
  • Scope
  • Mission
  • Pedgogy
  • halfway house
  • MAT
  • Methadone
  • inpatient/outpatient care

Lesson 2: Public Health Services on a College Campus

What is the scope of public health on a college campus?
Now that you have identified the definition and importance of public health, you will now learn the services and scope of public health on a college campus

Just like an elementary school, colleges have nurses, counselors, and therapists. With a much larger and diverse body of students, however, these services are greatly amplified. At college, the body is no longer composed of young girls and boys who need academic instruction and guidance. The college campus is a living space for budding men and women who are experiencing true independence and personal liberty in many ways. The rigors and stresses of a disciplinary education as well as the social tendencies of college partying creates a risk-laden environment. To examine public health on a college campus, we must first look at the necessities of the students and the pressing health issues they often face.

From a public health perspective, college students have a variety of issues that need servicing. Before we address the elephant in the room (i.e. addiction and alcohol/drug consumption), let's go over some of the other mental and behavioral problems students often experience.

  1. Stress: mental health among students is a huge problem on campuses.
Apart from mental stresses brought about by the difficult academic atmosphere, another important health conversation on college campuses is a balanced lifestyle.

2. Personal Health: Making sure that students are eating healthy and able to live a balanced lifestyle is an important part of a college campus.

Certainly, a college cannot control whether or not its students maintain a healthy lifestyle in their diet and exercise habits; but it should have enough options available to encourage such a way of living.

The Ramen Noodle: this 50 cent meal of sodium-heavy noodle soup is unfortunately a staple in the diet of every college student.

The below graphic shows the interesting relationship between college students and food.
Although this chart is meant to be humorous, college diets are no laughing matter. College students rarely get the regular dietary fiber, vitamin b12 and other important minerals they need. Without a steady helping of fruits and vegetables, the average college student can have a hard time focusing in class or worse, suffer serious health consequences.
Regular 6-8 hours of sleep is also crucial to a healthy lifestyle

3. Sleep: sleep deprivation ravages college campuses all across the U.S.

How Prevalent is Sleep Deprivation in College Students?

  • 7 out every 10 college students say they get less than the recommended amount of sleep every night.
  • 68% of college students say that they have trouble being able to fall asleep at night because they’re stressed out because of their academics or something that is affecting them emotionally.
  • 12% of students who don’t get enough sleep every night end up falling asleep in class at least 3 times per month.
  • During a normal week of college classes, 20% of students will pull at least one all-nighter every month.
  • 35% of college students say that they stay up until at least 3am a minimum of one night every single week.
  • College students in the United States rank dead last in the amount of sleep that they get on average in a worldwide study that was conducted in 2013.
  • Sleep deprivation starts as an early habit, as 73% of children as young as 9 don’t get enough sleep in a survey of students taking math and science tests.

university resources

At Saint Joseph's University, the Counseling and Psychological Services department (CAPS) offers free counseling for all students and faculty. With a focus on accessibility and walk-in consultations, CAPS makes it their focus to help all students in any way. Apart from simply being readily accessible to students on campus, CAPS works in concert with other faculty to seek out and identify students who are exhibiting mental health concerns and irregularities that warrant psychological assistance.

As mentioned earlier, the university cannot monitor the students' diet, exercise and sleep schedule; but it can encourage these healthy behaviors. The University offers a variety of dietary options in its Campion food court. The button below is a link to the SJU food court and dining hall web page, which can further outline the culinary choices and variety that the campus has to offer. As for sleep deprivation, Residence Assistants and other members of Residence Life encourage students who live on-campus to develop regular, healthy sleep patterns.

Lesson Review:

At SJU, students face a variety of possible public health risks. It is important to recognize these risks and listen to the encouragement from university authorities to maintain control over one's mental and physical health. Sleep deprivation, mental health, and dietary health are the support structure of a student's productivity and functionality. Using university resources, the student can foster a healthy, balanced lifestyle while practicing personal independence and self control.

Review Questions:

  1. What types of problems arise on college campuses?
  2. What are the consequences of some of the lifestyle choices that college students make?
  3. What resources does the university have to offer to help mitigate these health risks?
  4. What could universities be doing more or improve on to better service the public health needs of their students?

Important Vocabulary to know:

  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Psychology
  • Nutrition
  • Dieting
  • Mental health
  • Counseling
  • Residence Life

lesson 3: alcohol and drug use on campus

What does this have to do specifically with public health? Alcohol and drug abuse in college is a serious issue. How universities address this is very important in the public health outlook of their institution.

What are the problems facing universities and colleges in terms of alcohol and drug abuse? What do these institutions do to address the risk? What mental and behavioral health services do they provide?

Context: What is the drug and alcohol problem at SJU?

An overwhelming majority of SJU regularly consume alcohol. Even if the day-to-day alcohol consumption is low, the commonality for college students is to binge drink (that is, drink large quantities of alcohol in a short time span) on the weekends while rarely drinking during the week. The charts below further article alcohol consumption at SJU.

The grey represents liberal arts students, while the maroon represents students in the Haub School of Business. Less than 6 percent of the student body consumes alcohol on a daily or semi-daily basis.

Below, national data paints a similar picture.

Juniors drink the most, with an average of 7.63 drinks per week. This study encompassed multiple institutions and tens of thousands of students. The data suggests binge drinking is the main way college students consume alcohol.

Saint Joseph's University resources for alcohol and drug addiction and abuse

The Wellness, Alcohol and Drug Education Program (W.A.D.E.) is the main public health entity that deals with addiction on SJU's campus. WADE has multiple programs and uses and has a variety of outreach programs accessible to students

The Flock is WADE's addiction support group. "The mission of the Flock is to support anyone affected by Substance Use Disorder. The Flock spreads awareness of Substance Use Disorders and Recovery at SJU through an open dialogue and provides a supportive environment and a safe zone for anyone impacted by Substance Use Disorder."
Life on campus can be a rewarding experience filled with growth, new experiences and planning for future success. In the midst of these experiences however, students may face difficulty, sometimes personal or emotional in nature.
"Student Outreach & Support connects students to appropriate campus or community services through an individual Case Management approach. SO&S serves the University and individual students by arranging, coordinating, monitoring, evaluating, and advocating for students who are in need of assistance. Student Outreach & Support may communicate with appropriate Campus resources on student issues, including mental health hospitalizations and other high risk student situations."

WADE also sponsors SJU's Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous involvement. There are weekly meetings for both groups on campus every week.

Lesson Review:

SJU, just like any other college or university, encounters problems in alcohol consumption and addiction. Luckily, SJU is adequately resourced with programs and services like The Flock and Student Outreach that can assist students suffering from the affects of alcohol or drug abuse. Click on the button above to learn more about the programs WADE has to offer.

Review Questions:

  1. Is alcohol consumption something worth noting on college campuses?
  2. Why should the university make sure it has resources available for students who misuse alcohol and drugs?
  3. What services or programs does SJU offer?
  4. What can SJU improve on? Is SJU a model that other colleges or universities should follow?

Important Vocabulary to Know:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • binge drinking
  • Addiction
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • WADE
  • The Flock
  • Student Outreach

lesson 4: pursuing public health at an institution of higher learning

We have talked about public health in the perspective of services on a college campus. but what if, after reading this chapter, you wanted to pursue public health as a career?

Careers in Public Health are growing and expanding rapidly. Whether you are a case manager who works one-on-one with individual cases of mentally ill or addicted persons, or a psychiatrist who runs a MAT clinic, a degree in public health is becoming more and more sought after.

"Although it consists of a number of separate and long-standing academic disciplines, public health as an academic discipline in its own right is relatively recent." (Holsinger, 2013)

While SJU does not have a public health school, or even a department of public health, there are multiple majors and degree opportunities available that can translate into a public health career.

SJU's Biology and Psychology departments and Interdisciplinary Health Services degrees offer futures and opportunities in public health.

"The undergraduate Biology curriculum begins with a core of courses that presents the fundamentals of the life sciences, both in concept and methodology."
"Psychology prepares graduates for careers in psychological services in schools, hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers and social service agencies, as well as fields in the corporate sector including human resources, organizational psychology, conflict resolution and law."
"A major in IHS at SJU provides a comprehensive foundation in natural sciences, public health, the health care system and social sciences. You will be introduced to a broad spectrum of health issues including health behavior and management, legal and ethical concerns, environmental influences on health, nutrition, mental health, life cycle health, alternative/complementary medicine and epidemiology."

Click on the buttons above for more information about the respective programs and their opportunities.

Important Vocabulary to know:

  • Interdisciplinary health services
  • Major
  • Natural Sciences
  • Methodology
  • Discipline
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Epidemiology

conclusion and chapter review:

Each lesson within the chapter asked these basic essential questions:

  1. What is Public Health?
  2. What are the main public health concerns on a college campus, namely, Saint Joseph's University?
  3. What are some of the public health resources available on a college campus (e.g. SJU)?
  4. What opportunities are there at SJU for pursuing a career in public health?

"From conducting scientific research to educating about health, people in the field of public health work to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy. That can mean vaccinating children and adults to prevent the spread of disease. Or educating people about the risks of alcohol and tobacco. Public health sets safety standards to protect workers and develops school nutrition programs to ensure kids have access to healthy food." - The American Public Health Association

The main concerns outlined in lessons 2 and 3 are the personal, mental and dietary health of the students and the relation to alcohol use. Alcohol use is intrinsically intertwined within the other public health obstacles college students face. Understanding alcohol at a university campus can help you understand some of the other public health risks. While some things, like sleep deprivation, can not be controlled or prevented, the university maintains its mission to educate its students on how to achieve a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Furthermore, programs such as WADE, the Flock and Student Outreach are crucial to providing safety and support to those who are experiencing the effects of addiction or alcohol and drug abuse.

Finally, while public health degrees are not available and there are limited options to pursue public health at SJU, there still are multiple paths to follow through biology, psychology, and IHS at Saint Joe's if one wishes to enter the public health discipline.

"Cura Personalis" is a latin phrase that translates into "care for the whole person". while the context of this popular jesuit mantra is to explore new opportunities within one's identity and personality, it also can be understood to encourage one's MAINTENANCE of his or her mind, body, and spirit.


  • Moloughney, Brent W. (2013) Public Health Medicine, Public Health Practice, and Public Health Systems. Canadian Journal of Public Health / Revue Canadienne de Santé Publique, 104 (2), e115-e116. JSTOR Database:
  • American Public Health Association:
  • WADE resources:
  • Holsinger, James W. (2013). Contemporary Public Health: Principles, Practice and Policy. University Press of Kentucky. JSTOR Database:
  • (2008) National Public Health Week Shines Spotlight on 'What Is Public Health' as U.S. Faces Mounting Public Health Challenges. PR Newswire. ProQuest Database:


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