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Crohn's And U: The College Years

Crohn's Disease and Health Awareness

Living with Crohn's disease means taking extra special care of yourself, including both your mind and your body. When we are young, we often think that nothing can harm us. Crohn's teaches us that's not the case. But it also teaches us just how important it is to attend to our overall well-being. In this article, we will explore ways you can get the most from the resources your school's health center offers, and how you can turn living with Crohn's into an opportunity to better your mental and physical health awareness.

Taking advantage of school resources

Many school health centers offer a variety of services to help maintain your health. Specific services largely depend on the size and structure of your college or university. While wellness resources likely abound at your university health center, how can you best take advantage of those opportunities that are available to you? Take a look at your health center's Web site to see how they can help you and if they have any Crohn’s disease resources for students.

Crohn's disease is a serious chronic medical condition, and it is recommended that you receive treatment from a gastroenterologist. Most university health centers have only primary care options available, so you probably won't be treated by university staff. This staff is, however, an excellent resource for finding specialists within the community. In particular, if you have moved far away from home to a new area and don't know where to start looking, your university health center may be helpful in finding you a new trusted doctor.

There is more to your health and well-being than managing your Crohn's symptoms. You can find information and resources on sexual health, nutrition, reducing risks if you’re drinking alcohol, getting enough sleep, and even dental care, at many larger university health centers. Again, the better you care for yourself overall, the better equipped you will be to manage Crohn's.

A broader approach to health management

One thing is certain about college—it is a time of tremendous upheaval. With the transition to college comes a changing environment, an entirely new set of goals you may want to achieve, academic pressure, making friends, dating, and the financial strains of living on a student budget. Any one of these factors alone can be stressful! If you ever start to feel too stressed to handle it all on your own, think about talking to a counselor who may help.

You might find that your school has counseling services available through your campus health center. As a clinical psychologist for a university counseling center, I know that seeking therapy during stressful times can be very useful for students. You might feel nervous about the idea, but that remember visiting your school's psychologist doesn't mean you're crazy! Seeing a school psychologist means that you know to go get a little help when you need it and how to help yourself in a healthy, constructive way. Students find they need some counseling for all kinds of reasons, and the stress of having living with Crohn’s is certainly a good one.

Help yourself by taking action

It's important to remember that you have the power to improve both your physical health and mental health. While the college transition can be difficult, don't be afraid to seek help when needed and to allow yourself to be helped. Creating a supportive environment in which you can talk openly and confidentially about concerns and feelings is a great gift to give yourself—one that you deserve.