Oct 122004
Authors: J.J. Babb

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

embarrassing topics.

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:

* Contraception

* Sexually transmitted diseases and Stressors

* Pregnancy and Periods

* Emotional Health

* Relationships

* 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:


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