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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

Protect yourself from wildfire smoke

WSU community members should take precautions to reduce exposure to unhealthy, smoky air.

Breathing in smoke can have immediate health effects. Older adults, pregnant women, children, and people with preexisting respiratory and heart conditions may be more likely to get sick if they breathe in wildfire smoke.

If you experience any signs of respiratory distress, contact your health care provider or call Health & Wellness Services at 509-335-3575.

There are many steps you can take for limiting exposure to unhealthy, smoky air.

Avoid being outdoors. Use public transportation rather than walking or biking.

Stay inside as much as possible. Keep indoor air clean by closing windows, and if possible use an air filter and air conditioning. Make sure your air conditioner’s fresh-air intake is closed and the filter is clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.

Do not add to indoor pollution. Avoid using candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.

Follow your health care provider’s guidance. If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your doctor’s advice about medicines and your respiratory management plan.

Wear a mask. Masks can help limit exposure to unhealthy, smoky air. Students can get a free basic mask from the clinic’s waiting and lobby area. The CDC advises against relying solely on basic masks for protection.

Students can purchase N95 masks at the Health & Wellness Services’ pharmacy for $1.50. These masks offer more protection than basic masks.

WSU Environmental Health & Safety has additional resources on wildfire smoke including a real time map.

We’re adding more mental health training options

We’re expanding training opportunities for mental health and suicide prevention. By adding more facilitators and online trainings, we’ll be able to educate more Cougs!

We now have two Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) facilitators. Our MHFA classes are always full and we often have to put people on a waiting list. With two facilitators on staff, we’ll be able to train more Cougs how to recognize and assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

We’re working with Global Campus to make mental health-related webinars, like mindfulness and self-care, available online. And coming soon, our suicide prevention training, Campus Connect, will also be available online.

Providing online trainings allows us to reach more people, and establishes a reliable web-based mental health reference Cougs can refer back to.

Additionally, this fall we’re implementing a Campus Connect refresher course to ensure previous participants are up-to-date on best practices in suicide prevention. All returning resident advisors will participate in the refresher course, and new resident advisors will take Campus Connect training for the first time.

When we meet with returning resident advisors, we’ll discuss how they’ve used information from Campus Connect in the past year. We’ll talk about any struggles they experienced with implementing the material, and how we can improve our program in the future.

By utilizing different formats to deliver trainings, and increasing the number of trainings we offer, we’ll be able to train more Cougs, both online, and at the Pullman campus.

Viewing guide for “13 Reasons Why”

Viewing guide for “13 Reasons Why”

The new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”, a fictional story about a high school student who dies by suicide, has sparked many conversations about suicide and mental health. Recently, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about this show during suicide prevention and mental health trainings.

We’re really glad to hear community members talking about suicide and mental health. Talking about these topics in a caring and non-judgmental way helps create a culture that encourages getting help when you need it.

Like any dramatized account of mental health issues, it’s important to watch the show with a critical eye. If you’re thinking about watching, or have already watched, “13 Reasons Why”, here are some things to keep in mind.

Make a thoughtful decision whether or not watch the show. You may not want to watch if you’re experiencing, or have previously experienced, significant depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Consider watching the show with others. Discuss what you’re seeing and experiencing along the way.

Be mindful of how the show is affecting you. Stop watching if you find yourself feeling distraught or depressed, having thoughts of suicide, or having trouble sleeping. If this happens, talk about it with someone you trust.

Think about how you might make different choices than the characters. For example, it might be helpful to think through when and how someone could have intervened to help the main character. 

Suicide affects everyone. If you see or hear warning signs that someone is at risk of suicide, it’s critical to get help right away.

If you’re concerned about someone, talk with them openly and honestly. Asking someone if they’re having suicidal thoughts will not make them more suicidal or put the idea of suicide in their mind.

Counselors are professionals and a trustworthy source for help. If your experience with a counselor or therapist is unhelpful, look for another professional to talk to or seek out other sources of support, such as a crisis line.

Suicide is never the fault of survivors. There are resources and support groups to help survivors of suicide loss.

Care for yourself, your friends, and your family members. If you or someone you know is struggling mentally or emotionally, please get help. Getting support from loved ones and mental health care professionals can save lives.

We based these recommendations on guidance from the Jed Foundation.

Pilot stress program helps over 150 Cougs

Pilot stress program helps over 150 Cougs

We’re helping over 150 Cougs lower their stress with our interactive pilot text message program. Every week we check in with students to see how they’re doing, then send them personalized tips for relieving stress.

According to National College Health Assessment data over the years, WSU students consistently report stress as the most common health-related factor affecting their academic performance. In 2016, 51.6 percent of Cougs said they experienced more than average stress in the past 12 months.

We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the stress management texting program, and we’re eager to offer it to students again next year.

Moving forward, we want to collaborate with campus partners to increase the number of activities and resources to help Cougs lower their stress. And we’re exploring the possibility of creating a similar program just for graduate students.

We were able to provide the pilot stress management program with support from student technology fees and student activity fees.

Take action to prevent violence

group of students

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and WSU students are ready to take action to prevent violence!

According to 2016 climate assessment data, 67 percent of WSU students feel confident in their ability to take action to reduce interpersonal violence. When asked why they would take action, 78 percent said they feel it’s their responsibility to make people in their community safer.

We’re clearly committed to helping one another! But it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to taking concrete action. What can we do to help? How can we make a real difference?

At Health & Wellness Services, we believe that every single one of us can help make our community safer. One person can’t do everything, but we can all do something. Here are some simple ways you can get involved in addressing violence in our community this month (and throughout the rest of the year!)

  1. Read our blog post about how you can support survivors of sexual assault.
  2. Make sure you know WSU’s Executive Policy #15 prohibiting discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct.
  3. Get familiar with the confidential and university resources
  4. Request a resource poster or print a message of support to hang in your hall, classroom, or Greek residence.
  5. Add Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse’s 24- hour emergency and support service phone number for survivors of family and sexual violence to your contacts: 1-877-334-2887.
  6. Visit the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs for tools and materials you can personalize and use for social media and events. Materials are available in four different languages!
  7. Check out #SAAM on your social media of choice to find info and resources you can share with friends and family.
  8. Follow Coug Health and Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse on Facebook for more info on violence prevention efforts in our community.
  9. Attend a Green Dot bystander training and learn how to safely intervene in a potentially dangerous situation and prevent violence from happening.
  10. Sign up for updates on violence prevention and other health news and resources.

These are just a few ways each of us can take action, and get connected to helpful resources in our community. If we work together, we can put an end to violence and make our campus a safer place.

This post, originally published in April 2016, has been updated with new resources and information.

Cougs support survivors of violence

two students talking

Here at WSU, Cougs help Cougs. Our community cares deeply about supporting and encouraging one another in all areas of our lives. This way of thinking is especially important when it comes to supporting survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking. How we respond to survivors can have a huge impact on how they feel about their experience and what actions they take as they heal.

When someone tells you about their experience, it can be incredibly tough to know what to say and do. If you find yourself in that situation, remember what matters most: listen, believe, and support.

Listen. The most important thing you can do is listen without judgment. Even asking too many detailed questions can feel critical. Let the survivor tell their story at their own pace, with the details they feel comfortable providing. For some survivors, sharing their story is an important part of healing. Listening non-judgmentally and offering empathy will help them to feel safe and cared for.

Believe. People rarely make up stories of violence. Believe the survivor. If they say they were hurt, then they were. Assure your friend that it’s not their fault, no matter what happened, and that you believe and want to support them.

Support. Survivors can experience a range of emotions that are all normal. Encourage your friend to access support services, but let them decide if and when they want to use the resources you offer. You can find a comprehensive list of confidential and university resources from the Office of Equal Opportunity. If you’re able to and feel comfortable, you can offer to go with them. Everyone responds differently, and survivors’ needs may change over time. Check in with your friend occasionally and offer support again.

These conversations can be incredibly difficult and emotional. After talking with a friend about their experience with violence, you may want to consider seeking resources or support for yourself as well.

Supporting survivors is just one way Cougs take action against sexual assault and interpersonal violence in our community. Check out this list of simple steps you can take to help prevent violence and make our campus a safer place.

Do you want more information on how to make our campus safer? Sign up to receive news and resources for preventing violence in our community.

This post, originally published in April 2016, has been updated with new resources and information.

Get personalized stress management tips

Get personalized stress management tips

Feeling stressed, need help coping, or just want personalized stress management techniques? We can help! This semester we’re launching a new text messaging program to help you relieve your stress.

We will:

  • Check in with you every other week to see how you’re doing
  • Send you weekly tips for lowering stress, customized to your individual stress level
  • Enter you to win a free Ferdinand’s ice cream grabber whenever you do a check in

To sign up, text “STRESS” to 30644. Text messages will start March 1, but you can join at any point in the semester.

For any questions about this program or our stress management workshops, give us a call at 509-335-WELL.

Identifying abusive relationships

Identifying abusive relationships

We’re often in a good position to spot abusive behaviors in our friends’ relationships. But some of the signs of unhealthy relationships can look a lot like normal couple interactions. How can you tell the difference?

It can be hard to know for sure whether someone else is in a healthy relationship, but having a foundational understanding of abusive behaviors will help you notice potential warning signs and take action to help your friend if they need it.

First, let’s look at some examples of what normal couples experience.

Jealousy. It’s totally normal to feel a little upset it we see someone else flirting with our partner.

Conflict. It’s true – every relationship has conflict. We all have different perspectives and life experiences, and sometimes we clash.

Spending less time with friends. This is especially common early on in a relationship when you want to spend every waking minute together.

While these are often normal behaviors in a relationship, at what point might they be signs of abuse? Take a closer look. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do those feelings of jealousy pass after both people talk about how they’re feeling? Or do they lead one person to act possessive and controlling over their partner?
  • When conflict arises, do both people have an equal say, and do they both feel comfortable expressing how they truly feel? Or does one person hold back their feelings for fear of upsetting their partner?
  • Do both partners seem happy when they see each other? Do they both light up when they get millions of texts from their partner, or do they get frustrated, or even scared, when they get these messages?
  • Are partners spending all of their time together because they both want to? Or because one person demands it of the other?

Close friends are often in the best position to spot abusive behaviors in someone else’s relationship. The key is to pay attention and if you see or hear something that makes you uncomfortable – it’s time to check in. Start by just asking your friend, “How are things going in your relationship?”

Try and put yourself in your friend’s position. You would probably want someone to step in, offer support, and help you identify potential resources and options. You can be that person for your friend.

Everyone can do something to make our campus a safer place! To learn more about how you can help, sign up for a bystander training.

Show your support for mental health

Show support for mental health

At WSU, we want to create a campus culture that is supportive and educated about mental and emotional health.

Mental health conditions affect all of society, including many of us here at WSU. In our 2016 NCHA survey data, 34.8 percent of Cougs reported feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function in the last year.

This month, groups across campus are hosting events to raise awareness about mental and emotional health. Learn more and show your support by attending an event!

Mental health awareness campaign

To kick off the month, we’re partnering with ASWSU and student group To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) to host a mental health awareness campaign Nov. 1-4. Together, we hope to destigmatize mental illness and mental health problems.

For event information and mental health resources, follow ASWSU on Facebook or Twitter.

Campus Connect suicide prevention training

Wednesday, Nov. 2

This training covers facts and statistics about college student suicide, warning signs and how to intervene during a crisis. The training is free and all students are welcome to attend. Check out training times, and sign up on CougSync.

Keynote speaker on mental illness: Hakeem Rahim

Thursday, Nov. 3, 6:30-7:30 pm, Todd 116

Come listen to Hakeem Rahim, a professional speaker on mental health awareness, depression and suicide prevention. Hakeem will talk about his personal journey with mental illness as well as strategies to support, educate, and empower students to end mental health stigma. Make sure to check out #IAMACCEPTANCE on social media.

Movember at University Recreation

Join University Recreation for Movember, a month-long campaign focused on men’s health. UREC is hosting a full schedule of events, and all are welcome to participate!

Over 450 attend Coug Health Fair

CougHealthFair_postPage

Did you join us for the largest health fair in the region? Over 450 students, employees and community members took part in Coug Health Fair this year.

Hosted each year by Health & Wellness Services and the Cougar Health Awareness Team (CHAT), Coug Health Fair offers an opportunity for participants to pick up tips for improving their wellbeing and learn about the health resources available in our community.

This year:

  • 62 health-focused organizations and groups from the Pullman-Moscow community joined us for the fair. Exhibitors offered information on services and resources, plus all kinds of giveaways—everything from fresh apples at the WSU Tukey Orchard booth to free chair massages from Gritman Medical Center!
  • 40 participants received health screenings from HWS facilitators. During screenings, facilitators check participants’ cholesterol and blood pressure and teach them how to perform breast and testicular self-exams. Tracking your numbers and performing regular self-exams can be critical for preventing potentially life-threatening diseases, and many students don’t realize how important it is to start these healthy habits now!
  • 30 participants donated blood to the Inland Northwest Blood Center. Each donation of blood can save up to three lives!
  • 6,659 tickets for 30 door prizes were given out to participants who interacted with exhibitors. We selected prizes designed to help support healthy habits, including a Fitbit, a Nutribullet gift package and gift certificates for massage and outdoor recreation trips.

If you missed this year’s fair, we still have plenty of opportunities for you to get a health screening and learn about health topics like stress, nutrition, fitness and sleep! Check out CougSync for the full list of workshops offered by Health & Wellness Services and our partners.