Attending college can be one of the most exciting times in a student’s life. A whole new world is opened up for them with new adventures and possibilities at every turn. Unfortunately, some of those new possibilities and adventures will include unhealthy lifestyle habits and health concerns for students. Below is some information about some of the top health concerns college students will deal with and what you may be able to do to help them.
1. Drug and Alcohol Abuse
For many young adults, attending college is a time for experimentation. This can lead many students to engage in many behaviors deemed risky such as prescription drug abuse, binge drinking, and recreational drug use. Among drug abuse groups across the country, college students account for one of the largest and are already at a higher risk of addiction than other age groups. There are many reasons college students might turn to drugs and alcohol including stress, curiosity, course load, and peer pressure.
If you or a loved one is in college and struggling with the abuse of prescription drugs, recreational drugs or binge drinking, contact an addiction specialist from a local and reputable outpatient drug treatment center. They can help those suffering learn how to take their life back from addiction.
2. Nutrition and Exercise Concerns
Most people have heard of the “Freshman 15” that college students put on while attending school. Eating ice cream for dinner and pizza every day for breakfast and lunch might seem like a great idea at first, but it can create some major problems. College students often have packed schedules full of studying, hanging out with friends and part-time jobs. This can lead to a poor diet and an increase in weight.
While some students may try to chop these bad habits up to being part of the college experience, parents need to speak with them about the long-term effects it can have on their health and ability to finish school. Encourage your teenagers to learn how to manage their time and eat healthy on a budget.
3. Poor Sleep Patterns
With all the late-night studying and cramming for exams, college students often don’t get the amount of sleep they need. Insufficient sleep can have consequences that are highly problematic to students. Poor sleep can increase the risk of academic failure, impair moods, compromise learning and increase the risk of vehicle accidents. Parents of college students should advise them on how to better manage their time to ensure they leave enough for a good night’s rest. Limit alcohol, caffeine and natural lighting a few hours before heading to bed.
4. Anxiety and Depression
College can be stressful and mental health can take its toll on students. This increases their risk of depression and anxiety issues. Worries over grades, exams, and financial aid requirements are a lot to take on for those just starting their journey into adulthood. If your teen is showing signs of depression or anxiety, suggest they seek help from the health services department on campus. Oftentimes, therapy and medical help are included in tuition and fees.
5. Reproductive Health
For college students, the risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection is a significant possibility. Contraceptives can help prevent pregnancies, but only barrier methods such as dental dams and condoms can protect against certain STIs. Parents and doctors of teenagers need to talk to them about safe sex practices before they head to college. Persuade your teen to get annual STI testing through a local doctor or on campus with the health services department.
These are just some of the top concerns parents should be informed about before sending their teenagers off to school. Be sure your college students know what to do if they find themselves having trouble with any of these issues. Let them know they can call you with any problems that arise.