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March 1, 2015 | by  | in Being Well Opinion |
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Being Well

Checklist for Freshers

Embarking on student life should be an exciting time, but unfortunately may bring with it specific health issues. If you’ve just arrived at Vic, or have been here for years but have failed to look after your health, read on.

  • Living in close quarters in Halls can expose you to contagious diseases—viruses that cause coughs, colds and flu can spread rapidly. Rarer but more severe infections, such as meningococcal, are more prevalent where many people live together.

  • Relationships and sex—if you’re starting a relationship, or thinking about having sex, there are a few things to consider. Pregnancy and infection primarily, but also how to ensure it is a happy, fulfilling experience for both of you.

  • Alcohol, smoking and drugs—it’s your choice, but when/if you decide to partake, make sure you know the possible risks.

  • Stress and mental well-being—it’s likely that your first year at uni won’t be all plain sailing. Being away from home, study or financial pressures, relationship ups-and-downs can all impact on your happiness. Make sure you build lots of “positive” activities into your life and learn how to gauge your stress levels. If you’re not coping, or feeling sad more than normal, ask for help. The doctors, nurses and counsellors are available each day to help, support and advise if needed.

Although it’s not possible to create a definitive list, here are the top things I would recommend you think about during the first few weeks of trimester one:

  1. Enrol with Student Health—if you are happy to enrol with our service, doctors and nurses appointments are free for most students.

  2. Vaccinations—flu injections are available every year from mid-March, and are free for all students living in Halls. Vaccines to protect against meningococcal are not free, but I would highly recommend you think about getting one.

  3. Gardasil—for women, this injection protects against cervical cancer. If you haven’t already had yours at school, you can start the course of three injections now. It is safe, highly effective and free if you commence the vaccines before your twentieth birthday. For men, it is also recommended but unfortunately not funded.

  4. Sexual health—if you’re sexually active, use condoms. If you don’t, make sure you get regular checks for sexually transmitted diseases. Swabs for infection can be done without a doctor examining you. Make an appointment with a nurse or doctor at student health.

  5. Contraception—our staff can advise you on the best contraceptive options for you. Most of these are free, or carry a small prescription charge.

  6. Well-being—the counselling service runs a diverse range of self-help groups to help you manage anxiety, stress, sleep issues, depression and well-being. For an individual appointment, call and talk to reception. Try to incorporate some form of physical activity into most days—the rec centre has a huge range to choose from.

Being proactive with both your physical and emotional health will help you get through the year – happy, healthy and successful!

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