College is great time for students, but sometimes amid classes, homework, extracurricular activities and maintaining a social life; students sometimes forget to maintain their mental and sexual health. Although some students think they do not need to worry about their health, educating yourself and developing healthy habits now will be a critical part of being a successful college student. Here are some tips on staying STD-free and mentally healthy in college.
When having conversations about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), many students are not aware of the dangers of STDs. Many students are also not aware that one in five college students, ages fifteen to twenty-four, have an STD. According to Dr. June Samuel, Director of Student Health at Tuskegee University, chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common STD's found on college campuses, with 1.5 million new cases per year. Dr. Samuel could not comment on any statistics specific to sexually transmitted diseases found at Tuskegee University saying that it would violate student confidentiality. Nevertheless, anyone who is sexually active has the potential to contract an STD.
STDs are infections that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Anyone who has vaginal, anal, or oral sex is susceptible to getting an STD. Although the only completely effective way to prevent contracting an STD is abstinence, there are ways of avoiding them while staying sexually active. Below are ways to stay STD-free:
Get tested regularly or in situations where you have engaged in risky behavior, even if there are no symptoms. There are many instances where people have STDs with no symptoms, or symptoms that are not severe. Getting tested annually when you are sexually active will prevent the spread of STDs, if treated quickly. Although not free, the Student Health Center offers to test for STDs, and it hopes to pilot a free HIV testing program starting this the fall.
Use condoms every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Condoms are very accessible on-campus – they are available for free at the Student Health Center. A free health education program is also offered at the Student Health Center where they focus on prevention and give advice about staying sexually healthy. According to Dr. Samuel, students are not using protection on average. Condoms are not 100% effective; however, they do reduce to spread of STDs greatly. It is always good to carry condoms on your person; you never know when you are going to need one.
STDs are a very real issue and it is critical for students to do everything in their control to prevent possibly contracting one. While abstinence is the only completely effective way to prevent STDs, those that are sexually active can make choices to reduce the chances. Students should get tested and communicate with their partners about their sexual history and have them follow suit, use protection, get educated and they will likely stay STD-free.
There is one thing that is not said about college: while you get to create your own schedule, join organizations, and essentially have the freedom to control your entire life, you will feel overwhelmed. Whether it is because you have taken on too much or you are trying to balance your social life with your studies, you will sometimes forget to just enjoy college, especially during finals week. Despite mental illness beingcommonly connected to psychological factors and genetics, environmental factors can also cause mental illness among students.
According to Dr. Samuel, depression and anxiety are on the rise on college campuses and many students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities but do not take advantage of the resources available to them, because of the stigma surrounding mental health. Dr. Samuel says that when it comes down to it, it is all about taking care of yourself. "Students should know that this is not something to run away from and they are not alone", she said. There are resources available to students on-campus; these resources include individual counseling, group counseling/support groups, outreach programs, and off-campus referrals.
Everyone feels anxious, gets stressed, and feels sadness at times ,but if you cannot shake your worries and concerns, or feel that you cannot perform everyday activities you may want to monitor your mental health and seek help. Below are ways to stay mentally healthy.
Develop a good support system on-campus. Joining clubs and organizations are great ways to meet new friends.
Stay active. Exercising can reduce your risk of depression, and may help you sleep better.
If you are having problems with your homework load, develop relationships with your professors. Family members and friends may also offer good advice and support.
Visit the University Wellness Center, and discuss your concerns with a counselor. If further treatment is advised, follow their instructions. Attend follow-up appointments and track your progress.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, get help from a counselor. Call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Student Health Center Location
John A. Kenney Hall, Suite 71-235
University Wellness Center Location
Next to Kresge Center