Every week Pat is asked approximately 15 embarrassing
The topics of these questions range from menstrual periods to
drugs and alcohol, and within two to three weeks Pat responds to
each question with a researched answer.
Pat receives the anonymous questions through the Web site Ask
Pat!, www.askpat.colostate.edu, and posts the answers along with
the questions in the Web site’s archives.
Ask Pat! is an online service organized to help students with
questions and concerns about physical, mental, emotional,
relationship and other issues.
But Pat can’t do it alone.
“Pat is actually a conglomerate of many different people who
answer questions that have been submitted,” states the Web
This conglomerate is comprised of staff members of Hartshorn
Health Service, the University Counseling Center and other
organizations around campus.
“I think (Ask Pat!) is a fantastic resource for students because
college-aged students often tend to put their health on the back
burner whether it is due to money, lack of time, etc.,” wrote
Stacey Seastrom, director and Webmaster of Ask Pat! in an e-mail
interview. “This allows students to get the knowledge and advice of
health care professionals at any time without paying a fee and
doing it anonymously.”
Ask Pat! was born in fall 1999, after Hartshorn questioned
students about sexual health topics. Through the survey, health
center personnel discovered many students were confused or misled
about basic sexual health.
“Students didn’t always come in to get their questions
answered,” Morris said.
At this point Morris and two interns at the health center set up
Ask Pat! to address this lack of knowledge and to provide an
anonymous site for students to get factual information about
Deb Morris, a health educator at Hartshorn, said the site
started out addressing mostly sexual health concerns, and now it
aims to offer answers to mind, body and spiritual health questions,
“The great aspect of AskPat! is that it provides responses to a
great variety of categories,” Seastrom wrote. “The most frequent
categories are mental health, sexual heath and drug/alcohol-related
questions. However, recently we have just expanded our response
team to include the (Student) Recreation Center, so now, in
addition to mental health and general health, we are encouraging
fitness and recreation related questions.”
The Web site offers an archive of previously asked questions for
students to use as a resource on health topics.
Archive topics are labeled under the following sections:
* Sexually transmitted diseases and Stressors
* Pregnancy and Periods
* Emotional Health
* Let’s Get Physical!
* Drugs and Alcohol
Christy Wiencko, a senior music education major, has heard of
Ask Pat!, but she has never used it.
“I do think it’s a good idea,” Wiencko said. “It gives students
an opportunity to have questions answered without anyone really
knowing what’s going on with them.”
The Web site also offers a Hot Topic! section that provides
in-depth information on specific health-related topics. Currently,
two hot topics on the site are West Nile virus and methods of
conception. Hot topics are also archived for easy access to past
“People should use this service because it allows an outlet for
students to get any mental health, general health or
fitness/recreation-related questions answered confidentially and
accurately,” Seastrom wrote.
Ask Pat! is a informational and referral service only and should
not be used in emergency situations.
The Web site is maintained and updated by Seastrom in the health
promotions department at Hartshorn.
“AskPat! provides a terrific resource for students by providing
the professional advice of numerous health care professionals at
their fingertips,” Seastrom wrote
Hartshorn Service main number:
University Counseling Center: