Health literacy is “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions”.1 It informs or limits an individual’s ability to search for and use health information, adopt healthy behaviors, follow prescribed treatment plans, and act on important public health alerts. Limited health literacy is associated with worse health outcomes and higher costs2 and in the collegiate population can also lead to impaired student success. Health literacy is not only about individuals’ skills; in the United States, health literacy reflects the efforts of health systems and professionals to make health information and services understandable and actionable. Interventions across multiple sectors need to focus on improving individual skills and making health service, education, and information systems more health literate.2
This page is intended to be a resource containing suggestions for what you can do to increase NYU students’ capacity to make appropriate healthcare decisions.
• Be knowledgeable about NYU’s health and wellness services for students and able to refer them to the appropriate resources when necessary. The Student Health Center is comprised of a comprehensive set of medical, counseling, and ancillary services. These include but are not limited to the NYU Wellness Exchange with 24/7 crisis response, Physical Therapy, Radiology, Allergy and Travel Medicine, Psychiatry, Specialty Services, Optometry, Pharmacy Services, Health Promotion, and the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities. Whether enrolled in an NYU-sponsored Student Health Insurance plan or maintaining alternate health insurance coverage, the Student Health Center offers routine and walk-in Primary Care and Women's Health Services at either no cost or very reduced cost to all matriculated NYU students. In addition, Wellness, Short-term Counseling (talk therapy) and Crisis services are free of charge. Visit the NYU Student Health Center website to learn more about specific services, hours of operation, and how students can make an appointment.
• Avoid requesting an “excuse note” from students who miss class due to illness. The NYU Student Health Center does NOT issue “excuse notes” to students no matter how ill the student may be. Additionally, unnecessary visits to the Student Health Center can increase the spread of communicable illnesses and impair a student’s capacity to rest and get well at home.
• When discussing how to utilize online sources and detect trustworthy versus unreliable sites, remind students that these same rules apply to the sources they use in their personal lives. The Internet is the primary source of health information for NYU students.39-41 Just as students should only use credible resources for their research papers, remind them to be skeptical of online health sources and to use the same research method skills to evaluate the quality of health information sources. Visit the National Institutes of Health's Medline Plus Evaluating Health Information guide for additional resources to help students detect and use reliable health information.
• If you are made aware of a student who is having difficulty navigating healthcare systems, communicate with the Student Health Center (by calling 212 443 9999) on both the specific student (if they consent) or even on general issues you are hearing about. This will allow the Student Health Center to craft improved communications, while ensuring individual student needs are met.
• For faculty involved with students travelling/studying abroad, familiarize yourself with site-specific travel insurance, emergency protocols, and local health resources. For more information, visit the NYU Global Academic Center's Information Page or NYU Traveler.