Staying Healthy after High School
Graduating high school is an exciting time! Whether you are going to college, joining the military, working, or doing anything else post-high school, this is now the perfect time to start taking charge of your own health.
Here are some tips for staying on top of your health care as you go out into the world:
- Visit your pediatrician to make sure you have the recommended vaccines and other preventive healthcare. Ask about shots for meningococcal disease, HPV, pertussis, and flu. Even if you’ve had these shots before, you may need another dose or booster shot.
- Talk with your pediatrician about coordinating your health care with your college. When the time comes to transition to an adult health provider, your pediatrician can help.
- If you have a medical condition or health issue, make sure you know the information about your diagnosis that you should provide to your new doctor/clinic.
- If you are taking medication to treat a health or mental health issue, know the name of the medication, how it is taken, its side effects, and if you cannot have certain foods/drinks while taking the medication. Know where and when to go refill prescriptions.
- If you have a chronic condition, make sure your roommates or someone close to you know about your health conditions, signs of problems, and what to do in an emergency situation. If your problem is particularly complex or challenging, consider talking with or meeting with a health center staff member before the academic year starts.
- Communicate with college/university staff about their accommodations for teens with ADHD and other diagnoses.
- Be prepared for an emergency. Know the closest hospitals and clinics near your dorm. Find out where the student health center is. Talk with your parents about how your family’s health insurance works, and be sure you have a card from the health plan.
- Consider packing an emergency kit to keep under your bed in the dorm.
- Participate in activities to promote your overall health. Eating right, getting enough sleep (at least 8-9 hours a night), and being active will keep you feeling energized and can reduce stress.
- Make healthy choices regarding alcohol, drugs, and sexual activity.
- Find out what resources are available to support you. Often there are support groups and student services available on campus to help address the transition to college. It is normal for someone starting at college to have days when they feel sad, homesick, or a bit lost. If these feelings last for more than a week or so, or are interfering with your ability to work or enjoy your college experience, seek help. The health center or counseling center is a good place to start.
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Unexpected weeping or excessive moodiness
- Eating habits that result in noticeable weight loss or gain
- Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Paranoia and excessive secrecy
- Self-mutilation, or mention of hurting himself or herself
- Obsessive body-image concerns
- Excessive isolation
- Abandonment of friends, social groups, and favorite pastimes
- Unexpected and dramatic decline in academic performance
- Drinking excessively or using other drugs to feel better or help with sleep