Six Tips for College Health and Safety
Going to college is an exciting time in a young person’s life. It’s a time for gaining new knowledge and experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. Here are a few pointers for college students on staying safe and healthy.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle starting with diet and exercise. Follow an eating plan with portions from the basic food groups. Also be aware that beverages may be adding extra calories. Adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercise each week. Be creative about ways to get in exercise like walking across campus instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and working out with a friend, group or joining an intramural sports team.
- Managing stress and maintaining good balance is important. A few ways to manage stress are to get enough sleep , avoid drugs and alcohol, connect socially and also take time for yourself. Seek help from a medical or mental health professional if depressed or experiencing distress. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among persons aged 15 to 24 years. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide , contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- Sexually transmitted infections can be prevented. They are also treatable, and many are curable. Half of all new sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur among young people under the age of 25. College students and others who are sexually active should get tested for STDs and HIV to know their status and protect themselves and their sexual partners.
- Sexual assault happens on college campuses as well as in communities. One in 5 women have been sexually assaulted while in college and 80% of female victims of completed rape experienced their first rape before the age of 25. Students should know their rights, and seek help immediately if they or someone they know is the victim of violence.
- Binge drinking is defined as having four or more drinks for women or five or more drinks for men over a short period of time. About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks. Binge drinking is a factor that increases your chances for risky sexual behavior, unintended pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, car crashes, violence, and alcohol poisoning. Get the facts about alcohol use and health and learn what you can do.
- Substance abuse and smoking are problems among young people. In 2013, around 21% of those aged 18 to 25 years reported use of illicit drugs in the past month. Heroin use more than doubled among this age group in the past decade. Among cigarette smokers, 99% first tried smoking by the age of 26. Learn more about types of commonly misused or abused drugs and call 1-800-662-HELP to get help for substance abuse problems.
If you or a friend is struggling with a health or safety problem, you can:
- Talk to someone you trust for support.
- Visit your college health center or local clinic or hospital.
- Contact the campus or community police if your or someone else’s safety is threatened.