Students around the world have set off for their first exciting study abroad semester. Going to university can be an overwhelming experience, and many are living away from home for the very first time. With so much to remember and learn in a new and unknown area, it’s not always so easy to look after your health.
Here, Alistair Murray, Clinical Director at Echo – an app that helps you track medication consumption – gives some helpful tips on how to look after your physical and mental health while at university and make the most of your experience.
The first few weeks of university are a whirlwind of activity, so use this time now to sort out any necessary health arrangements. This includes signing up for a GP. Most university towns have their own health centre, where the GPs are familiar with issues students frequently face. Whenever you’re back home for the holidays, you can still visit your local GP for up to 14 days of care, but after that you’ll need to register as a temporary resident.
If you have a serious condition that could affect day-to-day student life, be sure to alert the university, including those in charge of your accommodation and department ahead of time.
Make sure your records follow you
GP services don’t necessarily pass on your records when you sign up to a new practice, so once you’ve registered, ask for your files to be shared with your new GP. This is particularly important if you have a repeat prescription, as it will make life easier when it comes to ordering your next set of medication.
New university students are at greater risk of contracting Meningitis as they mix with large groups of new people https://t.co/8QrWT5WAem
Make sure you visit your GP and to get vaccinated. pic.twitter.com/5PJHApwmN7
— Herts County Council (@hertscc) 17 September 2018
Extra preparation is needed for students going abroad
Students going to university in another country must be aware of the new healthcare system you’re entering, as well as what this might mean for your health condition.
For example, in Scotland, prescriptions are free. Do some research into the country and if you can register with a doctor do so. If you take medication, make sure to bring a note from your doctor with you alongside your prescription. Having these translated will also be beneficial if you’re going to a non-English speaking country.
Keep to your routine
A routine can be difficult to maintain at university- particularly for those who have very few contact hours in their degree. But routine can be important for some health conditions, especially if you take medication for it. Some must be taken at a set time each day. Setting reminders through an app like Echo can help you keep track of your medication.
Take advantage of technology
University will often be the first time you have sole responsibility for your health, with no Mum and Dad around to make sure you pick up your prescription or take your medication. But technology has the capacity to help you.
Along with the apps helping you track your lectures or find out about local club nights, apps like Echo help you manage your medication by sending out reminders for when to take it, and when to order more – delivering the medication straight to your door. This leaves you to enjoy the student experience to the max!
Tell your friends and flatmates
If you have a serious health condition, allergies or take repeat medication tell at least one friend or flatmate. In case something goes wrong you’ll want someone close by that knows and understands your condition.
Don’t keep it to yourself! Source: Giphy
Find your support network
According to YouGov, one in four university students suffer from a mental health condition. Stress and anxiety can be common as you deal with challenging work, tight deadlines and living by yourself.
If you have or develop a mental health issue during your time away, just know you’re not alone. There are a number of groups that can support you during these times from your GP, to wellbeing services to student-led support groups . Make sure you’re aware of the groups available to you and use them as you need. This will also mean you are equipped to advise and support others.
Consider new prescription costs as you progress through university. Unfortunately, it’s an expense that’s likely to rise as you grow older. To reduce this cost, look for pre-payment deals such as monthly or yearly charges if it;s an ongoing medication as this could save money. Also check that any medication you’re prescribed isn’t available for less over the counter.
Don’t put yourself at unnecessary risk
Increased alcohol consumption can inhibit the effectiveness and increase the side effects of medication, so whilst it’s important to have fun, don’t put your health at risk! Monitor your alcohol intake and by aware of any unusual effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fainting, headaches or a loss of coordination.