“Work Hard, Play Smart” Targets Students’ Choices Around Drugs and Alcohol

Work Hard Play Smart

Last fall, to encourage undergraduates to make more informed choices about their drug and alcohol use, Homewood Student Affairs launched a messaging campaign called Work Hard/Play Smart.

Work Hard/Play Smart kicked off in October with a talk by Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Linda Gorman, who discussed how drugs—particularly alcohol, marijuana, and opiates—affect brain chemistry and disrupt the brain’s reward system. Posters also went up around campus in residence halls and health centers to raise student awareness around the negative consequences of alcohol and drug use and to dispel some of the prevailing myths about how drinking and using drugs can reduce stress. Public service announcements starring student volunteers launched this spring on the university’s social media pages and on-campus video screens.

The campaign takes its cues from the audience it is designed to reach—hardworking Hopkins students who devote significant time and energy to their academics and then search for ways to cope with stress or look forward to weekend parties and relaxing with friends. Students have been engaged throughout the creative process, first as members of focus groups to help set the right tone to ensure the messages would resonate. Students gave feedback on imagery and messaging points, saying they would be most interested in seeing messages that emphasized facts about JHU students specifically. They were also interested in learning how drugs and alcohol affect things like GPAs, relationships, and athletic performance. Student feedback will continue to be an important factor to updating and improving Work Hard/Play Smart messaging as the campaign continues.

Staff members from the Center for Health Education and Wellness, the Student Health and Wellness Center, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Athletics and Recreation, and the Office of Communications are working together to manage the Work Hard/Play Smart campaign, which will continue to reach out to students throughout the spring semester. In addition, in alignment with the recently released Task Force on Student Mental Health and Wellbeing, the university is working to enhance existing wellness programming to help students develop their coping skills and to encourage them to seek out more productive ways to combat stress.