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Health Promotion

Health Promotion Office

Health Promotion provides innovative, evidence-based, engaging and enriching experiences to cultivate a culture of wellness and of care for students by fostering partnerships with student organizations, departments, national organizations and the surrounding community. We seek to engage students in health and wellness topics through hands on experiences and one-on-one interactions in an inclusive environment that promotes a continuum of growth and learning.


Stop by the Health Promotion Office in Webb Center (1525 North Webb Center, Norfolk, VA 23529) or email us at healthpromotion@odu.edu.

Mental & Emotional Health

ODU's Peer Mental Health Ally Program

Connect in person with an ODU student who can provide you support on a multitude of mental health topics in a safe and private environment. Topics include general wellbeing, healthy relationships, academic concerns, health and wellness coaching, family concerns, and roommate conflicts.

Peer Mental Health Allies (PMHAs) are fellow ODU students who have been specifically trained to provide peer support, wellness coaching, active listening, advocacy, and referrals via group and one-on-one sessions.

Confidentiality Statement: Peer-2-Peer individual and group sessions are meant to offer a safe and private space for ODU students to receive support from their peers. You will be asked to sign a confidentiality statement before the start of the session.

Sign Up For a 1 on 1 Meeting

ODU Peer Support Groups

Experience the benefits of connecting with fellow ODU students who can relate to what you're going through. Come as your are and share what you'd like.

Group Names & Descriptions

  • Let's Talk About It - General support group focusing on topics that impact student mental health and wellbeing
  • Let's Paint About It - General support group focusing on general mental health and wellbeing, but with a creative twist. Participants can expect to paint or create a craft each session
  • Navigating Through Anxiety - This group is a safe space for students managing anxiety including but not limited to, academic anxiety, general anxiety, and social anxiety.
  • Healthy Relationships - Support group that encourages students to practice and engage in healthy relationships. Students that are managing familial, platonic, romantic, roommate and professional relationships are encouraged to attend.
  • Let's Write About It - General support group focusing on general mental health and wellbeing, but through reflective writing. Participants can expect to write each session
  • Zoomin' In - General support group focusing on topics that impact student mental health and wellbeing, but virtually. Distance learners are highly encouraged to attend these sessions, but any student that prefers to connect virtually is welcome.
  • You Belong - Support group for students that have not been able to make meaningful connections on campus or managing homesickness. This group will not only allow you to explore your feelings but help anchor you into your community.
  • The Vault - This group is a safe space for students that identify as black men. The group will allow a space to express and explore feelings about sensitive topics regarding societal challenges and expectations.
  • Foster Youth - The group is a safe space for students that are foster youth.
Join A Peer Support Group

Monarch Wellness

Wellness is a holistic active lifestyle that challenges the individual to function at his/her optimal potential by achieving balance in all the areas of the Wellness Wheel including: Cultural, Emotional, Environmental, Financial, Intellectual, Occupational, Physical, Spiritual, and Social health.

De-Stress Week

De-Stress encourages you to prioritize self care, which is so important for mental health, especially during finals!

See Rec Well Calendar for upcoming events

Substance Abuse Prevention (Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs)

Drinking is not necessary to have a good time! If you choose to drink, be sure to do so safely by avoiding high risk or binge drinking. When you consume more than the recommended standard drink amounts in a two-hour time period, you are engaging in binge drinking or high-risk drinking.

What is a standard drink size?
1 standard drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounce of 80 proof liquor. The lines on a Solo Cup are measurement marks.

How many standard drinks in a 2-hour sitting does it take before high-risk drinking occurs?
Men: 4+ in one sitting | Women: 3+ in one sitting

*Disclaimer: If you are under the age of 21, you cannot legally consume or purchase alcohol.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you choose to consume alcohol:

  • Download and utilize the ODU LiveSafe App
  • Avoid mixing alcohol and other drugs
  • Determine the number of drinks you plan to consume before drinking
  • Eat before and while you are drinking
  • Plan how to get home before going out to drink
  • Ask friends to hold you accountable for sticking to your drinking rules
  • What is Cannabis?

    Cannabis (also known as marijuana, weed, pot, or dope) is a dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves from the Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis plant. Cannabis is made up of more than 100 components, which are known as cannabinoids. The two main components in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the psychoactive, mind-altering component and cannabidiol (CBD) which is not impairing.

    Cannabis Effects

    Cannabis does include some positive benefits like relaxation, pain management, and relief for anxiety or depression, but it can also lead to negative outcomes and problems if used in unhealthy ways. Frequent use can lead to lower academic success, more relationship problems, and poorer mental and physical heath. If you choose to use cannabis, make sure to practice safer habits and make informed decisions about your use to reduce the risk of developing long-term negative effects.

    Cannabis Policy

    Even though cannabis is legal in Virginia for those 21 years and older, it does not mean that it is 100% risk free and may still cause some harm. The use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. Since Old Dominion University is a federally funded university, it remains illegal for all individuals regardless of age to use, possess, sell, give, or distribute cannabis. Violations are subject to sanctions according to Old Dominion's Code of Student Conduct.

    Cannabis Harm Reduction Strategies

    If you choose to use, follow these tips to reduce the risk for harm:

    • Use in moderation- Try to use lower amounts, use occasionally, and have more days that are cannabis-free. Daily use can increase mental and physical health issues.
    • Don't hold your breath- Cannabis smoke contains many of the same toxins as tobacco smoke which when exposed to your lungs can cause harm. If you choose to smoke, don't hold the smoke in your lungs for a long time to reduce exposure.
    • Wait it out- Smoking or vaping cannabis will result in almost immediate effects. However, edible effects can take 30 minutes to 2 hours to be felt. Wait for the effects to be felt before deciding to consume more cannabis.
    • Start low, go slow- If you are a new user, choose to use lower THC products and slowly increase the potency levels. Remember that it is easier to develop tolerance to cannabis as you increase THC potency and frequency of use.
    • Plan a safe ride- It is not safe to drive while high. Wait 4-6 hours if smoking cannabis and 6-8 hours if ingesting before getting behind the wheel. In some cases, it you may need to wait longer than these recommended times. Always plan a ride with a sober drive or use a ride service.
    • Don't mix substances- Using cannabis with other drugs like alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs can lead to unpredictable health outcomes. Play it safe by sticking to one substance at a time.
    • Know the source- If you are purchasing cannabis, make sure to purchase from trusted and legal sources. This will reduce the risk of consuming cannabis that may be laced with other drugs.
    • Know your limits- Know when it is time to cut back or stop. Practice saying "no." Keep track of your tolerance and take t-breaks often to lower your tolerance and reduce your risk for addiction. Use the T-Break Guide to help take a 3-week tolerance break!

    Getting Assistance

    If you or a friend are concerned about your cannabis use and would like assistance in taking a t-break, contact the Health Educator Steven Gunzelman at sgunzelm@odu.edu to set up a time to meet.

    Happy Hour with a Twist

    Get happy for the first Activity Hour of the semester with free food, fun, music, and games! Learn about the importance of making healthy choices and win a free shirt by completing the online E-Chug assessment prior to the event.

    Hypnotic Intoxication

    Hypnotic Intoxication will amaze you as a hypnotist studies the powers of the subconscious mind. Simply watch or participate in the performance to learn more about the effects of alcohol in social settings.

    Great American Smoke-Out

    There's never been a better time to say goodbye to smoking tobacco. Sign a pledge to go COLD TURKEY and receive a free Subway turkey sandwich! The Great American Smoke-Out is an annual event created by the American Cancer Society (ACS).


    OctSOBERfest is a month full of events that provide tons of fun and connection without the consumption of alcohol. Stop by the OctSOBERfest Kick Off to grab a calendar of events and receive information about maintaining healthy habits!

    Monarch Safe Spring Break Week

    Get ideas to have fun safely during spring break with a focus on harm reduction. Learn how to manage familial relationships during the break as well as ways to destress during your time away from campus.

    No Booza Palooza

    Learn about the importance of making healthy choices surrounding alcohol. Earn a free t-shirt by completing the online E-Chug assessment prior to the event!

    Weeding Out the Myths

    De-stress by planting a mini succulent in a pot at the Plant Bar! Learn information and debunk a few myths surrounding cannabis to ensure 4/20 is celebrated safely.

    See Rec Well Calendar for upcoming events

    University Amnesty Policy

    The University has a policy of giving amnesty from policy violations involving underage drinking or drug use at the time of help-seeking for students who actively seek medical help for themselves or others, or for students who provide helpā€seeking assistance to victims. (learn more)

    Get Help

    Want to know more about how to help yourself or a friend? Contact our ATOD Health Educator at healthpromotion@odu.edu.

    Sexual Health Support

    Be proactive in protecting yourself in every sexual relationship. Remember that abstinence is the only 100% guaranteed way to protect yourself from a sexually transmitted infection or unplanned pregnancy. If you choose to be sexually active, use a condom consistently and correctly every time.

    STI Screening
    You can get screened at Student Health Services for all sexually transmitted infections. Just call (757) 683-3132 to schedule an appointment.

    Free Contraception
    Health Promotion and Student Health Services provides 3 free condoms per visit to all students.

    Menstrual Products
    Health Promotion provides free tampons and pads to students in need.

    Free STD/STI Testing

    Get tested! Understand your sexual health status by getting a free STD/STI test with the VA Department of Health.

    The Dating Show

    This game show-style event features a dating coach who speaks about relationship red and green flags. The event concludes with a speed friending session.

    Condom Bingo

    It's traditional BINGO with a focus on sexual health and healthy relationships! Participate for the chance to win prizes while learning more about the highlighted topics.

    See Rec Well Calendar for upcoming events

    STI/STD Testing

    • Student Health Services: Call 757-683-3132 to make an appointment or make an online appointment.
    • Norfolk Department of Health: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday - Registration at 9am until full. Thursdays - 1st Session 8:30-10:30am, 2nd Session 12:15-2:30pm
      • 830 Southampton Ave., Suite 200, Norfolk, VA 23510, 757-683-2800

    Stress Management

    Stress is often defined as a reaction to change. Acute stress (short term stress) can be exhilarating and exciting, while chronic stress (long term stress) can potentially damage your health. Acute stress that remains unmanaged can result in anxiety.

    Adaptation to different kinds of stress is a continuous process. Some levels of stress can be healthy and can enhance our lives, while too much can affect our well-being. You may not be able to control the stressors, but you can control your reaction to them.

    People who manage stress well may:

    • maintain healthy habits
    • recognize warning signs of physical and mental stress
    • use constructive rather than destructive reactions to stress
    • maintain an ongoing sense of meaning in their lives
    • develop and use a strong support system

    Sources of stress can include relationship problems, conflict between goals and behaviors, self-imposed thoughts like impatience and perfectionism, work overload, economic factors such as unemployment, threat of harm, increasing demands at home and at work, noise and pollution, and too many demands on your time.

    • Practice Positive Thinking. Use positive affirmations as a tool to quiet your mind when stressed. Positive affirmations are a way of sending your brain a message that the desired result can be achieved.
    • Breathing Exercises. Proper breathing is very important and can be a great form of stress reduction. When you have stressful situations, you tend to breathe faster and shallower. Take deep breaths and exhale slowly when you are feeling stressed.
    • Physical Exercise is great method of relieving and managing stress. It is important to make time each week in order to exercise your body and relieve tension. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which can help to improve your mood.
    • Meditation is also tool to use to help reduce your stress. It is the practice of attempting to focus your attention on one thing at a time. You use repeated mental focus to quiet your mind, which in turn quiets your body.
    • Listening to music. You can choose relaxing music you find peaceful to help manage your stress levels.
    • Just say no. Say no to requests of your time if you feel as though you're overworked with your obligations.
    • Avoid procrastination. Keep an organizer to help plan events and due dates. Be prepared ahead of time. Write out to-do lists.
    • Take a break. Have some "me-time." Get some exercise and fresh air.
    • Have a support system. Talk to people about your stress. If you need guidance or someone to talk to you can see a professional if necessary. Visit the ODU Office of Counseling Services for more information.

    Free Massage Chair
    Learn more about the free massage chair available to students in the Health Promotion office or sign up for a paid massage therapy session with a licensed therapist!

    De-Stress Week

    Let off some steam before final exams with a week of free activities to help you unwind!

    See Rec Well Calendar for upcoming events

    Sleep Habits

    Why is sleep important?

    Sleep has many benefits: strengthens your immune system, allows you to think clearly, helps achieve better moods, and restores energy.

    Sleep helps organize and store information so that it is easier to recall. This occurs during dream sleep. Those who have less dream sleep may perform worse on tests of recently learned knowledge.

    Products to help you sleep

    • Eye mask to block out light.
    • Ear plugs to block sound.
    • Warm socks to warm your feet and legs
    • Lavender scents are known to help calm you and make you tired
    • Milk and cookies. Milk has the hormone tryptophan which helps you sleep. The cookie will get the tryptophan to your brain quicker.
    • Be consistent: wake up within an hour of the normal wake-up time every day. Also be consistent at bedtime.
    • Go to bed when sleepy. You could toss and turn and may more attention to the clock if you are not tired. That makes it harder or the body to go to sleep and stay asleep.
    • Complete a relaxing activity. If you cannot sleep within 15-20 minutes, do something relaxing that does not involve electronics, return to bed when tired and sleepy. Repeat if you cannot fall asleep.
    • Skip naps or keep them short. Naps over an hour tend to decrease the amount of sleepiness you have during the day which could make it harder to fall asleep at night. Also nap earlier in the afternoon, not closer to bedtime.
    • Eat a small snack. If you are a little hungry, try a light carbohydrate snack, such as a cookie, with milk. You do not want to eat a lot since it can cause you to wake up and go to the bathroom.
    • Try reducing your exposure to bright lights. Close the blinds and turn off the lights. The light helps stop the flow of melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall and stay asleep. Without bright light, the flow of melatonin can continue.
    • Limit alcohol before bedtime. Do not drink alcohol later than 2 hours before bedtime. It may feel like alcohol would relax you and fall asleep; it can lead to restless and non-restorative sleep, since you are more prone to waking up as it wears off.
    • Limit caffeine. Do not consume it after 4pm, or within 6 hours prior to bedtime. It is classified as a stimulant, no matter if the person report not feeling its effects. It can interfere with your natural sleep cycle.
    • Nicotine is another stimulant you need to avoid before going to bed since you are more physically stimulated.
    • Bedtime ritual. Turn down the lights and make sure your bed is comfortable. Minimize the noise, you can use earplugs. Uncomfortable sleeping environments can make it harder to fall asleep. Try to establish the same routine for every night. It will prepare your body and mind for bedtime.
    • Limit activities. Do not read, watch tv, talk on the phone, fight, etc. in your bed. Limit those activities to outside of your bed.
    • Journal. Write out any to-do lists, or thoughts you are having before bed. These things may be the items that keep you up worrying late at night, such as final exams, fears, worries.

    Slumber, No Sleep

    In celebration of National Sleep Day, "Slumber, No Sleep" is an event to help you learn the benefits of a good night's sleep for both physical and mental health. Come in your favorite pajamas!

    See Rec Well Calendar for upcoming events

    Get Involved!

    There are many ways to engage with Health Promotion at ODU.



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