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In our previous article, we spoke about student wellness and how to begin your wellness journey. In addition to the suggestions we provided, such as exercising and being gentler with yourself, we thought it would be important to remind students of the importance of regular physical health check-ups.
As a student with limited funds, visiting doctors for regular health inspections may seem like an option that is out of reach. However, there are cost-effective ways to take care of your health and we are here to shed some light on a few.
UNIVERSITY STUDENT WELLNESS FACILITIES
Depending on the university or college you attend, each campus offers some form of health service or counselling service. These services are meant to advance students physical, emotional and mental wellness. The services are centred on assisting students to make healthy lifestyle choices in relation to nutrition, sexual health, and stress management. With most students back on campus now, this option might be the most viable.
UNISA has a Student Health & Wellness centre that recognises the importance of healthy living for students and offers an array of programs and services designed to promote physical health and emotional and mental wellness. The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) has a Student Counselling Reception that provides wellness activities and programmes that range from physical wellness to social wellness. At the Central University of Technology in the Free State, the Wellness Centre is responsible for providing services that range from health and psychological counselling services, social work services and academic support.
Additionally, the University of Rhodes has the Wellness Health Care Centre (HCC) which has a nurse on duty or on-call 24 hours a day. The HCC offers free admissions for all students and further provides support for students with stress, anxiety, and depression. The University of Fort Hare has a Student Counselling Unit that provides counselling for personal, emotional, spiritual, academic as well as social problems. Lastly, the University of the Western Cape has a Campus Health & Wellness Centre that has modern and well-staffed facilities for students’ health-related concerns.
The universities and colleges mentioned above are provided as examples so that students begin to comprehend that student wellness is within their reach on campuses. With this knowledge, it is up to the student to do further research on what wellness services are offered at their specific university or college.
PHYSICAL HEALTH EXAMINATIONS
Understandably, most students are discouraged from taking more active steps with regard to their wellbeing because of monetary limitations. However, pharmacies such as Clicks, Dis-chem and Local Choice have experienced nurses that provide consultations and offer basic medical care and advice regarding blood pressure, blood sugar, diabetes testing as well as cholesterol testing and monitoring. As of February 2021, a consultation with a nurse at Dis-chem costs R70, a blood pressure check is R35, a cholesterol test is R85 and a vitamin B12 injection is R60.
Importantly, certain Dis-Chem, Clicks and Local Choice clinics offer pap smears, breast exams as well as family planning services. These procedures may also be available at Marie Stopes clinics, mobile clinics and campus clinics. Numerous reports suggest that young people often think that cancer only affects older people and in a bid to debunk this – we encourage all our students to look into getting pap smears regularly in order to detect cervical cancer and any other conditions such as infections and inflammation. During certain months, Dis-Chem offers pap smears at their Wellness Clinics for just R180.
Equally important to physical health is oral health. Because of a lack of awareness and information, most students associate dentists with medical aid or excessive fees. Would you believe us if we told you that there are government facilities that offer free dental services?
The government hospital in your area has a division dedicated to oral health and on top of this, there are government dental clinics such as the Cape Town Dental Clinic that offer free dental services. It is advisable for students to be proactive about their health and do further research on the free and affordable dental services that might be available in their area.
What we have emphasised with these articles is the importance of student wellness and how it encompasses both emotional and physical health. When in doubt about certain health-related concerns, always do your research and never let your social standing as a student hinder you from accessing free or affordable health services.