SHOP - Student Health Outreach & Promotion
College Health and Safety
College is full of excitement, including meeting new people, learning new things, possibly living away from home, and making your own decisions. But college can also be stressful as you develop new routines, live on a limited budget, and face new opportunities. It can be challenging to juggle responsibilities like attending class, studying long hours, having a social life, working, and staying safe and healthy. The college years are a time of change that brings new challenges, risks, and responsibilities.
It can be overwhelming to try to sort through all of the health information that's available. Separating rumors and myths from reliable facts can take up all of your time.
Whatever source you use, it's important to be a critical consumer of health information. Look for independent, reliable sources of information. Be wary of sites that are trying to sell you specific products or miracle cures--if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Anecdotal reports or testimonials are never as reliable as scientific studies that can be replicated by different researchers.
Health and Safety Tips
Your health habits today can affect your health in the future. Even if your habits haven’t been so great in the past, this is a great time to develop new habits that will help you be strong and healthy through your college years and beyond.
Develop friendships.Consider participating in campus activities with other students who have similar interests. Extracurricular activities do not necessarily have to relate to your major. Join a college band, write for the school newspaper, volunteer, or do something else that is fun, helps you meet new people, and gives you the opportunity to express yourself.
Get regular physical activity.Even if you have a busy schedule, there are quick, easy exercises you can fit into your day. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise at one time or in shorter sessions most days of the week. Find something you enjoy, such as brisk walking, jogging, climbing stairs, dancing, or other activity.
UCSC Wellness Center
Eat a balanced diet.If you are concerned that you are overweight or underweight, talk with your health care provider about how to lose or gain weight safely. Fruits and vegetables are a natural source of energy and are one of the best eat-on-the-go foods. Be sure to eat regular healthy meals to help you maintain your energy level.
Nutrition for Everyone
Think positively.We are often much harder on ourselves in our “self-talk” than we are when speaking with others. Our tendency to be needlessly self-critical can foster unnecessary distress. But different approaches are available to help handle this. Work with teachers, counselors, family, friends, and others to address concerns about studying, test-taking, and other issues.
Get vaccinated.Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Be sure to ask your health care provider about getting vaccinated for meningitis, human papillomavirus (HPV), tetanus, flu, and other diseases.
Vaccines and Immunizations: College Students and Young Adults
Vaccines Needed by Teens and College Students
Get check-ups.Find a health care provider at your school or local health clinic for routine check-ups and concerns you may have about your health. Check-ups can help ensure you stay healthy and can help identify and correct problems early. They can also give you the opportunity to get to know your health care provider should you have a health problem later in the school year.
Regular Check-Ups are Important
Health and Safety Issues
Below are a few health and safety issues you may face while at college and some action steps you can take to help protect yourself.
Eating Disorders and Diet Changes
Your eating habits may change once you’re in college, and you may gain or lose weight. College cafeterias, buffets, and easy access to food 24 hours a day make it tempting to overeat or not make the healthiest food choices. On the other hand, you may not eat enough because of stress, lack of money, or other reasons.
Eating disorders are serious medical problems. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are all types of eating disorders. Eating disorders frequently develop during adolescence or early adulthood, but can occur during childhood or later in adulthood. Females are more likely than males to develop an eating disorder. Eating disorders are more than just a problem with food.
- Determine if your eating habits could be improved. Visit the Student Health Center or talk to a nutritionist or dietitian about ways to improve your diet.
- If you or someone you know is showing signs of an eating disorder, get help. If you suspect a friend has an eating disorder, tell him or her about your concerns. Ask him or her to talk to a counselor or doctor who knows about eating issues, and offer to go along to the appointment. Let your friend know you are there for him or her.
- Talk to someone you can trust, such as a parent, doctor, counselor, religious leader, or teacher.
- Attend a local 12-step Food Addicts Anonymous (FA) meeting with others who are recovering from the disease of food addition.
Nutrition for Everyone
Eating Disorders (HHS)
Food Addicts Anonymous (FA)
Fatigue and Sleep Deprivation
Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and depression. Students who are working or studying long hours often experience episodes of sleep deprivation. This can cause daytime sleepiness, sluggishness, and difficulty concentrating or making decisions. Teens and young adults who do not get enough sleep are at risk for problems, such as automobile crashes; poor grades and school performance; depressed moods; and problems with friends, fellow students, and adult relationships. Eating well, being physically active, and getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your well-being.
- Review your class, work, study, and play schedule. See what changes need to be made to ensure you get eight hours of sleep each night.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine. The stimulating effects of caffeine in coffee, colas, teas, and chocolate can take as long as 8 hours to wear off fully.
- Have a good sleeping environment. Get rid of anything that might distract you from sleep, such as noises or bright lights.
- Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day- even on the weekends.
- See your health provider if you continue to have trouble sleeping.
Sleep and Sleep Disorders
Your Guide to Healthy Sleep (NIH)
Mental Health: Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Everybody has the blues, feels anxious, loses interest in enjoyable activities, or gets stressed sometimes, but when it continues for a long time or interferes with daily activities, it may be more serious.
Stress is the body's response to any demand or pressure. These demands are called stressors. When stressors in your life are constant, it can take a tole on your mental and physical health.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps you deal with a tense situation, study harder for an exam, or keep focused on an important speech. However, if you cannot shake unwarranted worries, or if the feelings are jarring to the point of avoiding everyday activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.
Depression is very different from the occasional blues. About 18.8 million Americans experience depressive disorders that affect how they sleep, eat, feel about themselves, and live their lives. Depression can run in families, and it usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30. Depression has physical and emotional symptoms and cannot be wished away; people with depression can't just "pull themselves together." There are different types of depressive disorders, each with its own symptoms and treatment options. The good news is that depression can be treated, and people can recover.
- Stay active. Regular physical activity improves one’s mood, helps relieve depression, and increases feelings of well-being. Try going for a walk, dancing, jogging, or riding a bike. Ask a friend to exercise with you if you need to be motivated.
- Develop a circle of friends for support.
- Identify what may be causing your stress. Determine what steps you can take to reduce stressors, such as changing schedules, using self-relaxation techniques, and setting realistic goals for yourself.
- Talk to someone you can trust, such as a parent, doctor, counselor, religious leader, resident assistant, or teacher. Some people find that sharing their feelings with someone they trust and who recognizes what they’re going through helps them feel better.
- Visit the health center, and discuss concerns with a health professional. If the health professional advises treatment, follow instructions. Watch out for side effects, and attend follow-up appointments to assess improvement. If you don't feel any better after 4-6 weeks, tell your health professional.
- If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
UCSC Counseling & Psychological Services
Ad Council – Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign
‘What a Difference a Friend Makes’
Half of Us – provides a resource center with information on various mental health issues facing young people.
The Bacchus Network – Friends Helping Friends, Promoting Mental Health
American Psychiatric Association - Healthy Minds
The APA has created resources that explore mental health issues that impact college students.
Gotanxiety.org – A service provided by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Provides information for college students.
mpower – Musicians for Mental Health is a youth awareness campaign that is harnessing the power of music to change youth attitudes about mental health and stigma.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – AFSP
Dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research and education and reaching out to people with mood disorders and those affected by suicide.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
A 24 –hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to ANYONE in suicidal crisis.
Stress Management for the Health of It
Stress Management: Taking Charge
Tips for Coping with Stress
Anxiety Disorders (SAMHSA)
Mental Illness: What a Difference a Friend Makes (SAMHSA)
Relationships and Sexual Violence
We all have different kinds of relationships in our lives. Healthy relationships increase our self-esteem, improve mental and emotional health, and help us have fuller lives. Feeling scared, humiliated, pressured, or controlled is not the way a relationship should make you feel. Instead, you should feel loved, respected, and free to be yourself. Friends are an important source of support and advice. They play a powerful role in shaping attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
Sexual violence is a serious problem that affects millions of people every year. Sexual violence can have very harmful and lasting effects on victims, families, and communities. Women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence than men. Twenty-two percent of all sexual assault victims are between the typical college ages of 18-24. In 8 out of 10 rape cases, the victim knows the perpetrator. Women in college who use drugs, attend a university with high drinking rates, belong in a sorority, and drank heavily in high school are at greater risk for rape while intoxicated. Most perpetrators of sexual violence are men.
- Communication is essential in healthy relationships. Take time to talk with and listen to your friends and loved ones.
- Express your thoughts and feelings clearly and directly, without intentionally hurting or disrespecting others.
- Avoid relationships with those who drink heavily or use drugs, act aggressively, or treat you disrespectfully.
- If anything in your relationship makes you feel uncomfortable, talk to someone you can trust, such as a parent, doctor, counselor, religious leader, or teacher.
- Lower your risk for sexual violence by trusting your gut. If you don’t feel comfortable in a situation, leave or get help.
- If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence and needs help, contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or your local emergency service at 911.
The Sexual Assault Prevention & Education program at SHOP provides confidential support, information, and resource referrals to survivors of sexual violence.
The mission of Sexual Assault Prevention is to promote the compassionate and just treatment of student survivors, their support system, and significant others, foster collaborative relationships between campus and community agencies and affect attitudinal and behavioral changes on campus as we work toward the elimination of sexual violence against all people.
We strive to provide empathic, supportive services to students who have experienced sexual assault.
Knowing that some students will prefer to seek services outside of the UCSC campus, SHOP works closely to provide easy access to off-campus resources as well.
If you have any questions please contact:
Interim Coordinator, Senior Health Educator
Student Health Outreach & Promotion
If you need immediate resources for a sexual assault crisis, domestic violence, stalking or sexual harassment please contact:
|All Police Departments, including UCSC||911|
Confidential conversation with a State Certified Crisis Counselor call:Stephanie Milton, UCSC Women's Center
Women's Crisis Support/Defensa de Mujeres
24 Hour Crisis Line:
(831) 459-2169 or (831) 459-2072
|UCSC Counseling & Psychological Services
(includes after-hours instructions)
|Title IX Sexual Harassment Office||(831) 459-2462|
|Survivors Healing Center (off-campus)
(For issues of childhood sexual abuse)
|Community Service Officers||(831) 459-2100|
All of the above resources are queer-friendly
Additional queer resources are:
Male Survivor Issues and Resources