As you watch your children head out for college, you’re probably experiencing a range of emotions that include everything from pride to sadness, as well as a little apprehension. You want to do everything you can to help them prepare. But, as you shop for bed linens and review textbook lists, don’t overlook one crucial aspect of college prep – protecting your students’ physical and mental health while they live away from home for an extended period of time. Of course, the prospect is exciting, but keep in mind that the freedom of college life – and the many temptations that go along with it – can sometimes create health-related problems for students.
To help ensure the best possible experience for your children, there are steps you can take beforehand to prepare them to handle any issues that arise related to nutrition, stress, relationships, finances and peer pressure to engage in excessive alcohol consumption, drug use and unprotected sex. Here are some things you can do to help your children get off to a healthy start (and maintain their health throughout the semester):
- Schedule a physical exam – Most schools require a pre-entrance physical examination as well as proof of specific vaccinations. This is an excellent opportunity to check your child’s health status and help him or her learn how to stay healthy.
- Plan for emergencies – Review the details of your child’s health insurance plan. For instance, you might want to check out-of-state coverage, if applicable, and confirm that your child can access an in-network provider while away from home.
- Create a first aid kit – Your child should have easy access to any necessary prescription medications and supplies, as well as a set of basic medical supplies, including bandages, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, cold remedies, an ice pack and a digital thermometer.
- Prioritize sleep, nutrition, healthy sun habits and exercise – Talk to your child about developing good habits. Don't be overly rigid, but don’t let them be too lax, either.
- Find out about campus support services – Most colleges offer services to address a variety of student needs that range from depression to previous substance abuse to chronic medical illnesses. Make sure that your child is aware of the available services, and encourage him or her to use them if necessary.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a routine cancer screening for a college student, you can speak with an expert at Moffitt Cancer Center without a referral. Call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete our new patient registration form online.