ACHIEVING OPTIMAL HEALTH ON CAMPUS
Common Campus Lifestyle That May Put Your Health at Risk
Campus lifestyle comes along with a lot of challenges that can put the health of the students at risk. These are usually normal daily activities that you may not have the chance to avoid. For instance, academic activities are integral part of the whole campus living and therefore cannot be overlooked, though it can put the health of students at risk.
The choice here is to be able to manage these petty challenges to be able to stay free from any illness or health condition that can result.
You can never avoid having to live with people on campus. That is something you are virtually going to face all the days of your stay on campus. There is nothing like total privacy on campus.
You are going to be together with a large number of people in your classrooms or lecture halls, at the eatery, dinning, library, on the streets and even in your halls or dormitories; you will have to share with roommates in the night and at times, friends of roommates in the day.
This usually facilitates the spread of airborne infections such as common cold, flu and throat infections. These diseases spread through coughing, talking and spitting from infected persons. No wonder the most reported illness at school or campus clinics are Respiratory Tract Infections- (infections affecting the passages through which air enters and leaves the body).
Sharing is also a common practice on campus. Right from your room or dorm to the lecture hall, library, eatery and back to your room, you will tend to use things that have been used by over
In your rooms, you may have to share the same bathroom or toilet facilities with your roommates, the seats you are using in the shuttle may have been used by hundreds of students without seeing any significant cleaning, likewise the classroom seat you just struggled to get.
At the eatery, the plate you will be served with are ones that has already been used by several students whiles you may not know the type of hands (whether clean or unclean) that handled the book you are yearning to read at the library.
As has been already said, “There is no total privacy on campus” and even at times you find it very difficult to use your personal things alone. A friend may seek your indulgence to shortly use your pen at lectures or eating bowl in the room.
All these may indirectly put you at risk to several infections. Key among these are infections affecting our stomach, intestines and other digestive organs. These diseases usually present with abdominal pains, frequent passing of stools (faeces) and vomiting.
Academic activities is the main focus of campus living. However some courses are very demanding and coupled with having to meet your personal course expectations or that of lecturers, one may find it too hard to handle.
At times one will have to go for early morning class and come back in the evening; do course assignments and prepare for next day quizzes and lectures. This may go deep in the night, preventing students from have enough rest and even sometimes good meals.
Problems usually associated with tedious academic activities include Stress, Headaches, Fatigue and Difficulty in Sleeping. At times, Depression result when students do not meet their course expectations or record low grades.
There are array of extracurricular activities on campus that students can join to enrich themselves. From sports, to clubs, to volunteer, religious and social groups; there are a lot of activities aside academics that the student can engage in on campus.
However, activities from such groups may sometimes be so demanding that, it may affect the life of the students negatively.Stress, Headaches, Fatigue and Difficulty in Sleeping may occur as a result.
Depression, anxiety and other mental disorders may also occur when these activities (extracurricular activities) affect their academic performance negatively.
Students will be confronted with different people from a variety of backgrounds. There are cultural differences; racial differences; and differences in sexual orientation, religion, values, and lifestyle.
The kind of friend you choose may go a long way to affect your health. Whiles some friends may introduce you into alcohol and drugs which may destroy your lungs and other organs in your body others may stress you out with unnecessary activities.
However, certain relationships may also affect your life on campus positively. It’s good to maintain a good relationship with people you come across and live with especially your roommates and course mates. This also affects your health positively.
Health Opportunities Available to Students on Campus
Almost all universities, colleges and high schools have clinics that provide health services to students. They usually serve as a first point of contact and they may refer medical conditions beyond their limit of operation to higher health centres.
As a new member on campus, you have to find where the clinic is located and their hours of operation as some may not be able to provide 24/7 shift. In such cases, ask or look for alternatives too.
You also have to find their financial terms of operation when it comes to payment of services provided. As some schools run their own health insurance that require students to pay an amount (usually as part of their school fees), some may require you to pay for full or part of the cost of the services provided.
You don’t have to wait for sickness before you seek for this information. In most cases, some of these information are given during orientation.
Most universities, colleges and high schools also have counselling centres that provide services to students. They provide consultancy on psychological challenges, mental health and developmental issues.
Those who need academic and career counselling, substance use and abuse, emotional and interpersonal counselling can also use the place.
Course advisors can also provide academic and career counselling. You can look for them at your faculty.
There are numerous health clubs on campus that offers the student basic skills and knowledge in health. The Red Cross Society is found in almost all universities and high schools in Ghana.
They take members through basic first aid lessons and at times, offer them the opportunity to practice what they’ve learnt during campus programs and events. It’s usually open to all; irrespective of your course of study on campus.
There are other health agencies and organisations such as Marie Stopes International which engages students on health issues that may have representatives or clubs on campus. You can find out more from your Students Representative Council.
Factions of students often engage in health related programs such as having a health talk, health walk, health screening or clean up exercise on campus. These are all programs that help to improve the health of students on campus.
There are also groups like fitness clubs found in many halls of residence whose sole mandate is to periodically engage their members in physical exercise. Often times, they are done on weekends and holidays.
There are a lot of health resources such as magazines, books and periodicals available in school libraries and bookshops that the students can use to help him understand and improve his health on campus. A good example is the Campus Health Manual that discusses key health challenges on campus.
The internet is also another resource that the students can use to help him/her understand more about his health. However, much caution must be taken when surfing the internet as there are lots of fake information out there.
Friends and roommates remain one of the greatest resources on campus. They could be a source of health information and most importantly, be of help in times of health emergencies.
Almost all seriously ill students that are seen at the students’ clinic are brought in by their roommates, course mates or friends. There is no time for you to call home for help when you are seriously ill or need immediate medical attention.
This is one of the many reasons why you must be extra kind to your roommates, friends and course mates. Even the guy you just passed by on the street could be your source of help in times of collapse, fall or accidents.
24th August, 2017
Written By Assandoh De Nurse (RN, BSN-CHN, Clinical Nurse)
Prabhakara G. N. (2007). Short Textbook of Community Health Nursing. Peepee Publishers and Distributors (P) Ltd. India
Atindanbila S. (2003). Principles of Health and Health Promotion. Sonlife Printing Press & Services. Ghana
Badoe, E.A., & Owusu S.K. (2010). Health and Disease – A Layman’s Guide to Good Health. University of Ghana Medical School. Ghana
Respiratory Infection Fact Sheet http://cchealth.org/diseases/pdf/respiratory-infection-fact-sheet.pdf
Nonspecific Upper Respiratory Tract Infection https://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/materials-references/print-materials/hcp/adult-tract-infection.pdf
Cover Your Cough https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/covercough.htm
Acute Respiratory Infections http://www.schoolsandhealth.org/Pages/ARIs.aspx