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Students unaware of health resources

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As the annual wave of flu and colds infects the Mills College campus, Mills College’s Health Director and her team offer discussions, outreach and support to make sure that all students know that there are basic health resources available to everyone at Mills, waiting to be taken advantage of.

When encountering illness, as many are mid-semester, it may be the first time students realize that they are unsure of the resources available to them.

“It seems like everybody is getting sick,” said senior Mandy Day who speculated that there were increased absences because of it.

Students experience more stress at this time of year because of exams and papers, which makes them get sick, said Day.

Day said that even though she was in her fourth year at Mills, she had never been to the Tang Center. She also said that she had never used health resources on campus.

Mills College’s Health Program Director Cynthia Turner, L.C.S.W., said that she and Health Education Coordinator Erica Browne, M.P.H., want to get the message across to students that no matter what health insurance they have, everyone has resources that they can access through Mills, both on-campus and at the Tang Center on the U.C. Berkeley campus.

Turner emphasized that all students are offered basic care.

Mills’ Health Programs have used many avenues – such as the Health Fair, the chapel, student forums and pamphlets – to educate the community about health and Mills’ services, said Turner.

The Mills College Web site described Turner as “available to answer medical questions, help you make appointments and connect with an advice nurse at the Tang Center. She can also assist you in selecting the right medical care clinician to meet your specific needs.”

Turner can also offer “information on stress management, chronic illness, nutrition and many more issues that are concerns for [students]. She offers individual counseling sessions on many of these issues,” according to the Mills Web site.

Although this information is available to everyone and placed in the Student Services section of the Web site in order to direct students to it, many students are still missing it. “I would like [students] to come to get to know what services we have,” said Turner.

In order to make students aware of available health resources, Turner and Browne led a discussion this Fall geared towards freshwomen. “It gave ideas for taking care of yourself.tailored to Mills’ health concerns,” said Turner.

Another discussion open to the entire campus will be given before winter break, Turner said.

Any topic that students want to learn about can be discussed, said Turner, who puts together forums for health education on subjects suggested by students.

According to Turner, it is also important to have a dialogue between Mills students, health services and the Tang Center. Due to the dialogue between students and herself, Turner can address student concerns with the Tang Center.

“We don’t want to assume what the population wants to hear, we want to hear what students want,” Turner said.

Turner said that she wants students to communicate their questions, concerns and requests and they can do so either in person or e-mail.

Whether students have the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) or private health insurance, there is no charge for clinicians at the Tang Center and prescriptions are cheaper, Turner said.

In order to get to the Tang Center from the Mills campus, students must ride the shuttle from the starting point at Mills to the last stop, at U.C. Berkeley. “The problem is the hours and having to rely on the shuttle,” said Day.

Turner acknowledged that the Tang Center has a proximity issue and said that she often gets complaints. “Of course I do,” said Turner, but she felt the distance was justified by the fact that Tang is a state-of-the art health service of a magnitude that Mills could not offer otherwise.

However, there are on-campus services in place so that student’s needs can be met closer to home, especially when they are minor, Turner said.

Both Cynthia Turner and Erica Browne have an office in the Cowell building. At least one of them is present on each weekday and is available by appointment or drop-in.

Turner has regular office hours from 9a.m.-5p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Her e-mail is

Browne is available in her office from 9a.m.-5p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, or via e-mail at They can be reached by phone at (510) 430-2360. There are also health pamphlets covering a variety of topics can be picked up across from their offices in Cowell.