North Carolina Central University’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences has embarked on a creative collaboration to make it easier for members of the university community and their neighbors to live all-around healthier lives.
The one-stop Behavioral Health & Wellness Clinic on the second floor of the Miller-Morgan Building is based on a model of integrated health care, considered the most effective way to achieve overall good health, said Seronda Robinson, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Public Health Education and co-director of the clinic.
“By providing an integrated health model, we focus on the whole person and bring the various disciplines together to achieve optimal health,” says Dr. Robinson.
“The center offers basic cardiovascular health exams, along with assessments for sports injuries, fitness capabilities, dietary needs and mental-health screenings.”
To identify learning issues such as dyslexia or attention deficit disorder, psycho-educational evaluations are offered to students who are referred to the clinic by Student Accessibility Services.
In addition to offering this wide palette of services, the wellness clinic also benefits NC Central students by providing opportunities for hands-on training in human sciences/dietetics, physical education, psychology, public health education, social work and nursing. All students are supervised by licensed faculty from the appropriate departments.
“I switched from nursing to public health education because I decided I’d rather prevent people from getting sick than treating them for illness,” said Tiffaney Spruill, a junior from Raleigh. “Working in the clinic gives me an opportunity to do that by educating patients about their health.”
Graduate students in the Department of Psychology provide psycho-educational evaluations, as well as behavioral, personality, and cognitive assessments. Students who are identified as needing ongoing care are referred to NCCU’s Student Health and Counseling Center, but counseling services for non-students may be provided on-site, as needed.
Graduate students in social work provide the initial assessment for new clients at the clinic, evaluating their overall social, mental, and physical health.
“Our services are available to students, faculty, staff and the community at large,” said Sherry Eaton, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Psychology and clinic co-director.
By opening its services to neighboring residents, clinic leaders also address the problem of health disparities.
A 2017 National Center for Health Statistics report shows that blacks have the highest rate of hypertension among all ethnic groups. The center also reports that both blacks and Hispanics have higher rates of obesity than whites; however, members of both minority groups are more likely to be uninsured. The picture is the same regarding diabetes.
The Behavioral Health & Wellness Clinic is committed to serving clients on a fee-for-service basis so that costs remain affordable for all income groups.
“We are in the heart of the community, so many can walk to their appointments,” Dr. Eaton said. “This is the population that NCCU is a part of, and so we believe it is important that we are able to provide for this population, whom we know are often underserved.”
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