How to Help Your Child Stay Healthy While Away at College
If you have a child who is living away from home for the first time as a college student, you probably experience a complicated range of emotions whenever you think of him or her. You might feel proud and sad at the same time, and maybe even a little apprehensive. Of course, you want to do everything possible to help out. But, as you stock up on bed linens and analyze computer specifications, be careful not to overlook one very important aspect of college preparation; that is, protecting your child’s physical and mental health.
Keep in mind that the idea of being away from home for an extended period of time is usually very exciting to college students. However, the independence of college life – and the temptations that often go along with it – can potentially result in health-related issues, especially if they are unprepared. To help ensure the best possible experience, here are some things you can do to help your child get off to a healthy start in college, as well as maintain their health throughout the semester:
- See a physician beforehand for a general wellness exam – Many schools require evidence of a pre-entry physical examination, including proof of certain vaccinations. This is a good opportunity to confirm your child’s health condition and educate him or her on ways to stay healthy while away from home.
- Prioritize rest, nutrition, and fitness – Talk with your child about how to develop and maintain positive lifestyle habits. Being overly rigid can be counterproductive; instead, aim to create understanding and acceptance.
- Plan for possible emergencies – Read the fine print of your child’s health insurance plan to confirm out-of-state coverage (if applicable), and find out if your child will have access to in-network healthcare providers while away from home.
- Prepare a customized first aid kit – In addition to any necessary prescription medications, put together a basic set of medical supplies, such as antibiotic ointment, bandages, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, cold remedies, an ice pack and a thermometer.
- Look into on-campus support services – At most colleges, there is help available to address a variety of student needs ranging from depression to substance abuse. Make sure your child is aware of these services, and encourage him or her to use them if necessary.
The transition from living at home to being away at college can be difficult for both students and their parents alike. A little advance planning can go a long way toward ensuring that the road ahead is as smooth as possible. By taking some preventive healthcare measures, everyone can feel more confident and prepared for whatever the future may hold.
If you would like to talk with a physician or arrange for a wellness examination for your college student, contact or visit the South Tampa Immediate Care walk-in clinic. No appointments are necessary.