Health Promotion

Health Promotion in UCC

Health Promotion in UCC

 

What is Health Promotion?

Health promotion is defined by the World Health Organization as “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health”.  Essentially it is concerned with enabling people to improve and maintain their health through healthy lifestyles.

 

Health promotion

 

What determines how healthy we are?

A common misconception about health and wellbeing is that it is our own biological and individual lifestyle factors that determine how healthy we are. While these factors do play a critical role there are many other factors which can equally define just how healthy you are. Where we live, work, study, socialise, etc. all have an influence on our health. These conditions are determined by policies which ultimately affects where and how we live, and by doing so indirectly influencing our health.

Health Promotion at UCC

UCC embraces the health promotion approach to improve the health and well-being of its students and staff. The UCC Health Matters initiative was developed with this in mind, and helps to ensure that health promotion becomes engrained in the practices, processes, and culture of the university for the benefit of its community.

The UCC Health Matters initiative, established since 2012, is providing a platform and brand for health promoting activities and events that occur throughout the year on campus. Its work is driven by both staff and students, and oftenin collaboration with external organisations,depending on the context. To date UCC Health Matters has made remarkable progress, even winning the prestigious An Duais Mhor award at the Irish Healthcare Awards in late 2013. UCC also reached its goal of becoming a recognized Health Promoting University in February 2015. Health promotion is an on-going process and the Health Matters initiative will continue to work on improving and maintaining the health and well-being of its staff and students.

Many of the services and events provided on the UCC campus that promote health are almost entirely student organised and operated. The uLink Peer Support service provides practical, emotional, and social support to all incoming students, helping them settle in easily, and is provided by UCC student volunteers. Likewise, the Niteline telephone listening service for students in UCC is run by trained UCC students for other students who need somebody to talk to. The LIFE programme organised and delivered by the DSS and the School of OT is another wonderful example. There is significant involvement from students in many of the events that run on campus. Events such as the UCC Health Matters day, Operation Transformation, Off the Booze and On the Ball, and the UCC Cancer Societies "Relay for Life" have been very successful due to the input and involvement of the student population. 

 

 

 

Alcohol

It is most likely that you will find yourself having to make decisions about drinking at some stage during your time at university, whether it is at a friend’s house, a party, a bar, or a nightclub. It is a common feature in social gatherings almost everywhere you go. However, it also carries a serious risk of adverse health and social consequences due to its intoxicating, toxic, and dependence-producing properties. The overuse and misuse of alcohol not only can be extremely harmful to both your physical and mental health, it can also severely hamper your academic performance. For all of these reasons we encourage that every student should have at least a basic understanding of alcohol education. 

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is a depressant drug which gets absorbed into the bloodstream quite quickly from the stomach. It affects the central nervous system, slowing down how your body and mind function. In this way, alcohol slows down your breathing and heart rates, and affects how we think, feel, and behave. By affecting behaviour, it has the capacity to make people do things that they will soon enough regret.

Alcohol is there to be enjoyed sensibly. By moderating your consumption of alcohol, you not only avoid the severe health risks and hampered academic performance that it’s associated with, but you will also have the ability to make better judgements which will enable you to have:

  • fewer regrets
  • fewer arguments
  • less chance of a hangover
  • more chance of avoiding embarrassment
  • more money
  • more control
  • lowered risk of an unplanned pregnancy
  • lower risk of contracting an STI through unprotected sex

 

A Standard Drink

The information in this section has been adopted from the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) website on alcohol consumption (www.yourdrinking.ie).

A standard drink (also referred to as a unit of alcohol) in Ireland has 10 grams of pure alcohol, which amounts to: a pub measure of spirits, a half pint of beer, or a small glass of wine.

 

Figure 1: Classification of drinks by Units of alcohol (1 unit = 10g)

Units of alcohol

 

The above chart presents a general guide to how common alcoholic drinks are classified in terms of units of alcohol. A pint contains two units of alcohol, while an alcopop contains just over one.

To keep the risk of the adverse effects of alcohol to a minimum it is recommended that:

  • Women should drink only up to 11 units of alcohol in a week
  • Men should drink only up to 17 units of alcohol in a week
  • Consumption should be spread out over the week, not all in one sitting
  • Have some alcohol free days during the week
  • To not drink alcohol when ill or on medication

 

Binge Drinking

This occurs when people drink more than is recommended in one sitting. It is a very harmful form of alcohol consumption which has often lead to health risks, injuries, accidents, violence and other forms of antisocial behaviour. A general rule is that the consumption of more than 5 units of alcohol (6 or more standard drinks) in one sitting can seriously increase the risk of these harmful effects, and it is this form of drinking that defines binge drinking.

 

Understanding the connections between alcohol and the organs can help you make smarter decisions about drinking. Drinking too much – on a single occasion or over time – can take a serious toll on your health. 

Here’s how alcohol can affect your body: 

Brain
Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.  

Heart

Drinking too much during a long period of time or drinking a lot at once can damage your heart and put your life in risk.

On the other hand, some studies now show that drinking a little amount of alcohol can protect your heart of some coronary artery disease. Also, long term heavy drinking weakens the heart muscle causing alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Other risks are: arrhythmias, strokes and hypertension.

Liver

One of the main functions of the liver is to rid your body of substances that can be toxic, including alcohol.  The alcohol break down generates toxins that are even more harmful than the alcohol itself. These toxins damage liver cells, promote inflammation and weaken the body’s natural defenses.

Drinking a lot can cause steatosis (or fatty liver) which is the building up of fat in the liver. The excessive fat makes it more difficult for the liver to work.

Other liver conditions associated with heavy drinking include alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis.

Pancreas

Habitual and excessive drinking damages the pancreas and is a common cause of pancreatitis. When you drink, alcohol damages pancreatic cells and alters the metabolic process involving insulin, leaving the pancreas open to dangerous inflammation. 

Cancer
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including cancers of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast.

Immune System

Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease.  Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, than people who do not drink too much.  Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.

 

Signs of a problem

A few tell-tale signs which could signify that you may have a serious problem with alcohol include:

  • Aggressive and/or antisocial behaviour due to alcohol
  • Health problems, injuries, or accidents as a result of alcohol
  • Memory loss (blackouts) due to drinking
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Using alcohol as a method to cope or to escape from stress
  • Drinking on your own
  • Binge drinking
  • Drinking to combat shyness
  • Drinking just to fit in

 

Tips for better alcohol consumption habits

Alcohol is part of our everyday social culture, particularly when you are a student. Abstinence is the only way in which the excess risk of harm brought about by alcohol can be avoided. However, should you choose to drink you should do so sensibly.

The following are some tips that are worth bearing in mind when you find yourself facing the decision to drink on a particular occasion or not:

  • Drink at your own pace and avoid getting into large rounds. Being in a large round can see you playing catch up with the other members of the group.
  • Be sure to eat not long before consuming alcohol, or during the evening. It is never a good idea to consume alcohol on an empty stomach.
  • Drink water before going out and between every second drink to avoid dehydration.
  • Drinking games should be avoided. You should not feel pressurised to participate.
  • Buy smaller drinks when you can (e.g. a half pint or long neck bottle instead of a pint)
  • Leave you glass down between sips. You will drink a lot slower this way.
  • Do not rush the drink and try to keep within the recommended guidelines for safe drinking levels.
  • Do not mix your drinks.
  • Decide in advance how you are going to get home safely before consuming alcohol.

 

Alcohol and UCC

If you are concerned with your alcohol consumption there is help available through the UCC Student Health Department and UCC student counselling service. Appointments with the services can be made by phone: (Health) +353 (0) 214902311 or (Counselling) +353 (0)21 490 3565, text: 087 215 25 05, or email: counselling@ucc.ie

UCC also offers alcohol free accommodation to students who wish to reside in alcohol free zones throughout the academic term. Students who reside in these accommodations are allowed to consume alcohol, but no alcohol is allowed onto the premises of the accommodation.

A number of events are run throughout the year to address the issue of alcohol, and to promote alcohol education amongst the student population, including Off the Booze and On the Ball.

An updated Student Alcohol policy has included measures which place restrictions on the availability and promotion of alcohol on and around the UCC campus. This policy can be found at the following link: http://www.ucc.ie/en/media/currentstudents/documents/AlcoholPolicy-approved-ac-nov13.pdf

e-Pub: e-Pub is an online toolkit available to all UCC students which they may use to find the facts about their own, and their friends’, alcohol consumption, from the harms it can cause to the financial cost of their drinking habits. e-PUB is an evidence based website and is not sponsored or supported by the drinks industry, so it can "get to the parts that other sites can't reach".

If you think you might need help, details of places to contact for support are available from within e-PUB. If you are a non-drinker, e-PUB may help you gain an insight into how your friends may be affected by alcohol and how you can direct them to sources of support.

Students can find the link and log on to e-Pub below:

http://www.ucc.ie/en/studenthealth/research/epub/

 

Useful Links

Some other useful links to find more help, information and tips about alcohol are listed below.

http://www.yourdrinking.ie/about-alcohol/

http://www.drugs.ie/alcohol_info/

http://collegeroad.ie/welfare/drugs-and-alcohol

http://www.hse.ie/portal/eng/health/az/A/Alcohol-misuse/

http://alcoholireland.ie/

http://www.ucc.ie/en/media/support/studenthealthservice/docs/SHA2012Alcohol.pdf

 

Drugs and Substances

Your years spent in university will be amongst the most exciting, if not the most exciting, years of your life. There is a pulsing social scene in which our students can enjoy and make new friends. The party circuit is a major part of the social scene, but it is through this party scene that new and/or increased exposure to a range of different substances including drugs can occur.

Peer-pressure can  play a role in your choice as an individual to take a drug, sometimes in in an attempt to "fit in". Some drug takers say they take drugs because they enjoy the effects. This is not a risk-free zone however. As with everything else in life you have choices, and these choices are easier to make when you know the facts. The use, abuse and misuse of both legal and illegal drugs can not only affect your mental and physical health, but also may impair your academic performance, your relationships with others, your moods, and your overall wellbeing.

Occasional use can be followed by regular use and occasionally, addiction. Drug addiction can be a very serious problem for an individual and for those around them, and becomes a real possibility if you use drugs. The dangers of drug use are compounded when mixed with alcohol and this co-use can increase the severity and frequency of adverse effects and harmful consequences of each.

 

Most commonly used drugs

Amongst the commonly used illegal drugs are:

  • Cannabis
  • Amphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD & Magic Mushrooms
  • Solvents & Aerosols
  • Tranquilisers
  • Nitrites

Prescription and Legal Drugs that are abused

Not all drugs that are misused and/or abused are illegal. Prescription drugs, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are drugs which are often used and sometimes abused by people, and can in themselves have very severe health consequences.

Prescription drug abuse has become an increasing problem in recent times. These are easily accessible for many through their circle of friends, through prescriptions from their doctor, and through family, either with or without their consent.

There are a variety of reasons as to why someone would abuse prescription drugs which include: the pressures of being in university; boosting concentration; dealing with stress; for losing weight; and to fit in with their social circles. But, as with the illegal drugs, prescription drugs can have a variety of adverse effects on both the mental and physical health of the individual. These adverse effects can range from severe depression to stunted growth.

Drugs and Mental Health

Most people take drugs to enhance their mood (to get “a buzz”). But in doing so they are also altering necessary chemicals that flow in the brain. This can be dangerous to that person’s mental health, both immediate and in the future. Long term use of cannabis, for example, can lead to severe depression in those that smoke it, particularly if they have a tendency to suffer from depression or have a family history of the same. Continued use of cannabis may have a role in precipitating the onset of schizophrenia, a very serious mental illness with extremely heightened levels of paranoia.

Other effects of psychoactive drugs include delusions, panic attacks, even permanent brain damage or, at its most extreme, death.

Drugs and the Law

The type and quantity of the drug that you are caught with will determine any penalty/punishment that the court may hand down to you. It will be down to the court as to whether the amount, that you are caught in possession with, was for personal use or for sale. The quantity determines the court’s judgement as to whether the intent was to supply and carries are more severe punishment. Punishment for possession illegal drugs can range from a fine, up to several years in prison. 

The Gardaí have the power to search you and/or your vehicle for drugs, or even to arrest you, if they have strong enough reason to believe that you are in possession of illegal drugs. These provisions were made through the Misuse of Drugs Act and, if caught, could have repercussions on your future chances of employment either in Ireland or abroad.  

What to do

If you are worried that you may have a problem with drugs or are unsure, contact and attend one of the Student Support Services, Student Health or Student Counseling. You can also try the Computer Aided Lifestyle Management (CALM) programme available from the student counselling service at: http://www.ucc.ie/en/studentcounselling/online/ . CALM is an online multimedia programme available to all students and staff at University College Cork. It uses interactive self-help tools to identify, motivate and educate you around issues such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress and substance misuse (including drugs). Once you have identified any issues, CALM can help you to deal with your thoughts and feelings associated with them.

If you find that you may have a problem it is advised that you get in touch with the student health department (4902311) or the student counselling department who can offer you the assistance that you need, or refer you to somewhere that you may get assistance if preferred. Contact information for the student counselling department can be found through their webpage at: http://www.ucc.ie/en/studentcounselling/supporting/

The HSE also runs a Drugs Helpline that can be reached on Freephone 1800 459 459, Monday to Friday and is open from 10am to 5pm. This services offers support, information, guidance and referral to anyone with a question or concern related to drug and alcohol use. All calls are confidential.

You can also go to your GP who will be able to refer you to get the support that you need.

If you feel you are actively suffering from the health consequences of alcohol, substance or drug use, call into the Student Health Department for a cant and to be examined and reviewed.

 

Useful Links

The following are some links where you can find useful information about where you can get help outside of UCC should you feel that you have a problem. These sites provide detailed information on the types of drugs, the harm each causes, and what to do.

http://www.drugs.ie/

https://www.healthpromotion.ie/health/drugs

http://www.corkdrugsinfo.ie/

http://www.addictionireland.ie/home/default.asp

http://spunout.ie/

http://www.talktofrank.com/drugs

http://www.hse-ncs.ie/en/

 

 

Nutrition and Healthy Eating

Eating the right types of foods is important for everyone. It helps us to feel good, energised, and healthy while maintaining a healthy weight, and allowing us to function to our maximum potential. Other, possibly lesser known benefits of a healthy diet are: that it supports our own immune systems, making us more resilient to many infections; and it also reduces our long-term risk of many chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even certain cancers.

The food pyramid below and further information on healthy eating are available on the HSE’s health promotion website www.healthpromotion.ie

food pyra

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Referring to the food pyramid will help you achieve and maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Foods that are similar in nutritional value are grouped into the same level in the pyramid. It is highly recommended that a variety of the foods in the lower (wider) food groups are consumed daily. The number of food servings from each group is presented on the left of each layer, and as you move up through the pyramid the number of daily servings decreases, reflecting the nutritional value of each food group. Along with using the food pyramid to plan your food choices, it is also important to watch your portion sizes and to consume at least 8 cups of liquids (preferably water) daily.

 

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/eight-tips-healthy-eating.aspx

http://www.nutritionandhealth.ie/Sectors/NHF/NHF.nsf/vPages/Eat_Smart~top-tips?OpenDocument

https://www.healthpromotion.ie/health/healthy_eating

http://spunout.ie/health/article/balanced-diet

 

Nutrition and You

Whether you are just starting out in college for the first time, or a returning student, you will most likely find yourself in the position of having to cook for yourself. This can become a neglected area for many students due to the busy academic and social scene that they are involved in. Time and cost play a big factor in the amount and type of foods they consume. It is important for the good of your own health and well-being and for your academic and social performance that you engage in a healthy diet. Following the guidelines in the food pyramid should make the healthier option apparent to you. However, it is not always possible to spare the time or expense in partaking in a healthy diet. There is a simple solution for those in this situation, and for those that do not yet have the knowhow to prepare nutritious meals, and that is to avail of the service provided by the College Dinners service at the following link: http://www.collegedinners.ie/

This service provides 4 ready-made healthy meals at the beginning of each week at very affordable prices (much less expensive than the daily “sausage beans and chips” routine even). Additionally, the website provides many easy to follow recipes that are affordable and can be used by anyone. Another website that provides recipes for students can be found at: http://studentrecipes.com/

 

It is important that your diet consists of a well-balanced mixture of protein, micro- and macro-nutrients, carbohydrates, and fat in order to feel healthy, look good, and maintain a healthy body weight.

 

Sugars

In recent times there has been a major shift in focus on the role that sugars have played in the obesity epidemic that has been witnessed around the world, including here in Ireland. Refined sugars in the diet are major contributors to the overall energy density intake. In order to maintain a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of the many illnesses associated with being overweight or obese, it is critical to maintain a good balance in energy intake along with an optimal nutrient intake.

unhealthy food

There has been a rapidly increasing body of evidence that shows that the consumption of refined sugars in the form of soft drinks, sports drinks, sweetened fruit juices, cordials, energy drinks…etc., have played a major role in the increase in overweight and obesity. Even soft drinks in their diet form have been thought to be major contributors.

Another important factor concerning sweetened drinks is the role they play in the development of dental diseases, especially dental caries. The sugars in the drink provide a perfect environment in the mouth for an attack on your tooth enamel through bacteria that ferment these sugars. It is not only through pain and functional limitation that dental disease can severely affect a person, but it can also provide social embarrassment through the loss of visual teeth to many.

 

Easy Tips

Below are some useful and easy tips to maintain a healthy diet.

  • Never skip breakfast. This is important as those who skip breakfast most often end up picking away at random snacks throughout the morning and afternoon. It is also thought that skipping breakfast contributes to an increase in blood pressure.
  • Keep hydrated. Consuming around 8 glasses, or 2 litres, of water each day is important to keep your mind and body functioning normally.
  • Eat your 5-a-day. Having at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day will help provide many important nutrients necessary for optimal performance.
  • Limit fast food intake. Fast foods are low in nutritional value and high in salt and fat. Though it would be best to avoid them entirely, limiting their consumption to just once every few weeks would be advised. Choosing thin crust on pizza rather than thick also helps.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol offers absolutely no nutritional value and carries with it high density alcohol sugars which can be deposited as fat on the drinker.
  • Eat a variety of foods. Eat as many types of fruit and vegetables that you can source. The body requires many micro-nutrients necessary to maintain optimal performance, and these can be obtained from varying your food sources.
  • Limit added salt and sugar in your diet.
  • Do not skip meals, and eat only when you are hungry.

 

Useful Links

Below are some useful and informative links on all things nutrition and diet related.

http://www.nutritionandhealth.ie/Sectors/NHF/NHF.nsf/vPages/Home?OpenDocument

https://www.healthpromotion.ie/health/healthy_eating

http://spunout.ie/health/article/balanced-diet

http://www.fsai.ie/science_and_health/healthy_eating.html

http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/Goodfood/Pages/Goodfoodhome.aspx

 

Mental Health

Our mental health is something that we should protect and maintain just as we would our physical health. Being in a state of good mental health will allow you to get the most out of your life, both here at UCC and in your future lives, and can help you through stressful times.

Commencing university is a very exciting and challenging phase in anyone’s life. Though the good times outweigh the bad, there still come periods where stress levels can be heightened for a variety of reasons. The transition from school to university itself can be very stressful, being away from home for the first time, finding new friends, and financial pressures can all take their toll. Added to this there is the usual pressure of meeting assignment deadlines and the end of semester examinations. It’s quite natural at times to feel that everything is getting on top of you, but remember that you are not alone in this.

What does UCC do?

There are a variety of services provided throughout UCC to help any student or staff member through stressful periods.

Student Health Service: The Student Health Service has developed a particular expertise in supporting and managing students in distress. The team of nurses, doctors and on-site consultatnt psychiatrist work in partnership with other support services especially in Student Counselling and Devvelopment and the Disability Supprot Service. Particular issues that the Health Service has experience in helping our students with are, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bipolar illnesss, psychoses and alcohol and drug use. 

ULink Peer Support: uLink Peer Support is a service to support first year students in UCC. At orientation all undergraduate first years meet and are linked with a peer support leader, a current UCC student studying the same programme. Your peer support leader will guide you at orientation and can show you what life at UCC is all about. This is a non-judgemental service aimed at making the transition to university life as smooth as possible.

More about the service can be found here: http://www.ucc.ie/en/pass/ulinkpeersupport/

 

Niteline: This is a free, confidential, telephone listening service provided by trained UCC students for UCC students who need someone to talk to. The service is provided to listen to any problems that you may have whether it’s related to your course, personal life, or if you just need to talk to someone.

More about Niteline can be found here: http://www.ucc.ie/en/pass/niteline/

 

Student Budgetary Advice Service: Is a service that’s available to all students. It provides advice on how to manage your money through one to one, or group, workshops. It also provides assistance in filling out grant and scholarship applications, liaises with other student support services on your behalf, and provides financial assistance on a “first come first served” basis to those who need it.

More about the service can be found here: http://www.ucc.ie/en/studentbudget/

 

Student Counselling and Development: Student Counselling and Development is a free confidential service to all registered students. It provides individual counselling to students with emotional, psychological, academic or personal development needs. The service is available by appointment either by phone or email, but also has a number of online supports which are available for any student to use at any time. A range of group initiatives and workshops to students and staff are also available through the service.

Some examples of the issues that can be helped through using the service include: Anxiety, stress, depression/low mood, self-esteem, academic anxiety, family and relationship difficulties, transition to college, bereavement, eating difficulties, presentation anxiety, sexual trauma, sexual identity, alcohol/drug misuse.

More about the service can be found here: http://www.ucc.ie/en/studentcounselling/

 

 

The Chaplaincy Service: The Chaplaincy provides many services which help improve and maintain ones mental health. It has a large lounge in the ground floor which is open year round for anyone to drop in for a tea/coffee and a chat. It is quite a fun place with many students from a number of backgrounds congregating there each day.

The Chaplaincy also holds mindfulness sessions to improve mental health for anyone who wishes to take part. This is a great way to maintain good mental health. It also holds weekly Aware meetings for those who are experiencing symptoms of depression. These meetings can be very therapeutic for anyone who gets involved. The service provides so much more to help improve mental health and also provides a great way to meet new friends which is very important to anyone.

More about the Chaplaincy can be found at: http://www.uccchaplaincy.com/

Click here for details on UCC Chaplaincy's Meditation & Mindfulness sessions

 

Click here for UCC's Mental Health Policy

Sexual Health

Not everyone in university is sexually active. Many are, some not. Dont just believe the hype.The choice to become sexually active with a partner for the first time is an important choice, and for many is a deeply personal choice that is important to them. Regardless of the choice you make, it is worthwhile considering making an active positive choice, one way or the other. 

Sexual health, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) is a “state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction and infirmity…. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled”.

Engaging in active, enjoyable, safe sex is an important part of life for many, regardless of age, race, religion, or sexuality. For this reason, looking after your sexual health should be just as important as other aspects of your health. For those who are sexually active, practicing safe sex will reduce the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.

 

Safe Sex

In truth, abstinence is the only 100% effective method of preventing STIs and unplanned pregnancies. For those who wish to be sexually active the use of condoms is very effective, though not entirely, against preventing STIs and unplanned pregnancies. Limiting the number of partners also helps in no small way. The more partners that one has, the greater the chances of coming into contact with someone who has an STI.

 

Sexually Transmitted Infections

The terms “sexually transmitted infections” and “sexually transmitted diseases” have been used interchangeably. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are passed from an infected person during unprotected sex, be it vaginal, anal or oral. You don’t have to engage in full sexual intercourse to become infected. Any practice that sees the transfer of body fluid from one person to another brings with it an increased risk of infection.

Many STIs have been identified. Some are caused by bacterial infection, while others are caused by viruses. Particular STIs, such as chlamydia, are much more common than others, but none are pleasant. Most STIs are curable through the use of medical treatment, in some instances these can take a relatively long time to clear up. A few STIs cannot be cured at all and remain with you throughout life after infection.

Some of the most common STIs include:

  • Pubic lice
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Chlamydia
  • Syphilis
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV
  • Herpes

Public lice are often referred to as crabs which live on your person and causes continuous ever increasing itching. This condition is treated through over the counter lotions and creams.

Infections from gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis are bacterial and can be treated using prescribed antibiotics.

Viral infections such as HPV, HIV, hepatitis and herpes cannot be cured after infection. They can be treated to ease the symptoms but remain in your system. Even when symptoms of infection are not evident, there is still a risk of passing on the infection to someone else through sexual contact.

Some viral infections can lead to even more serious life-threatening diseases. HIV can progress into AIDs over time, as can HPV progress into cervical cancer which is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women worldwide.

Many STIs show no signs or symptoms, particularly in the early stages of infection. However, if you experience any or all of the following symptoms or think you need to be tested for an STI, you should contact the Student Health Centre at 021-490 2311 to make an appointment.

  • Lumps, sores or blisters near the genital, rectal or mouth areas.
  • Itching around your genitals
  • A burning sensation when you urinate or have a bowel movement
  • Unusual discharge or drips
  • Swelling or redness in your throat
  • Swelling in your groin area

The Student Health Centre provides information on testing free of charge, while an STI test itself costs just €20. 

 

What does UCC do?

Just as with other aspects of your health your sexual health is important. University years are often a time of transition and change, and for some this means becoming sexually active with a partner for the first time, or a change in sexual partner(s). It may also be a time of self-discovery and uncertainty about your sexual orientation. If you are concerned about any aspect of your sexual health the Student Health Department can help. They have a dedicated team with considerable experience built up over the years of helping people deal with sexual issues. In addition to its STI clinic, appointments can be made for either a female or male doctor to discuss your concerns. Appointments can also be made with a dedicated Sexual Health Advisor, a member of staff at the centre, who will deal with your concerns sensitively and confidentially.

In the event that you need emergency contraception (i.e. the morning after pill), it can be obtained at the Student Health Centre for a fee of €20 or €25, depending on which pill is chosen . Inform the receptionist that you need the morning after pill, upon your arrival, and you will be seen. 

 

Other services geared toward the promotion and protection of sexual health on campus are provided by the Students Union. UCC’s Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance, or SHAG, week runs in the second term of each academic year. The week sees the provision of numerous events and workshops, hosted by the Students Union and select student societies, to promote sexual health awareness amongst the student population. Free condoms are dispensed throughout the week and are available to any student.

 

A condom shop runs out of the Students’ Welfare Office throughout the academic year. Here condoms can be obtained either free, for just 4, or for a small fee which increases as the number being purchased increases.

 

The Student’s Welfare Officer is available for those who have any sexual health concerns, particularly for those who have had an unplanned pregnancy. In the event that the officer may not be able to handle your concerns, or you may just want someone else, they will refer you to other people who will be there to help and are specialised in the area. In the event of an unplanned pregnancy the Student Health Centre team and student counselling services are always available to help.

 

Below are some links specific to the services provided in UCC:

http://www.ucc.ie/en/studenthealth/services/

http://www.ucc.ie/en/studenthealth/services/sex/

http://collegeroad.ie/welfare/sexual-health

http://www.ucc.ie/en/studentcounselling//

http://www.ucc.ie/en/media/currentstudents/documents/PREGNANT-STUDENTS-SUPPORT-FINAL-DEC11.pdf

 

Some external links which may be of interest can be found below:

http://www.sexualhealthcentre.com/

http://www.yoursexualhealth.ie/

https://www.healthpromotion.ie/health/sexual_health

www.thinkcontraception.ie

 

For an unplanned pregnancy, more information can be found at the following links:

www.positiveoptions.ie

www.corkfamilyplanning.com

http://www.crisispregnancy.ie/

http://www.cura.ie/

 

 

Physical Activity

With the sedentary nature of modern life and ease of access to energy-dense convenience foods there has been a remarkable increase in overweight and obesity in the population in recent times. Spending so much time sitting in front of computers, televisions, and at computer games has added in no small part to the problem. Compounding the problem is the fact that more people tend to opt to drive rather than walk to places which would be easily reached on foot, and to take the elevator rather than the stairs when there are not that many steps to climb.

Being active brings many benefits to both your physical and mental health. Many of us know about the positive effects that physical activity have on our heart, lungs, bones and muscles. But it also provides great benefits in improving of our mood and handling stress, through the release of endorphins (the feel-good chemical in our brains).

Engaging in regular physical activity can have a protective effect against developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, even some forms of cancer. By increasing levels of physical activity a reduction in body fat is made possible and enables people to maintain a healthy weight.

 

How active do I need to be?  

It is recommended that adults should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. This does not all have to be done at once, it could be done in ten minute intervals throughout the day. Anything less than ten minute intervals provides little to no benefit.

If you are not very active at the moment, start gradually and build up slowly to reach your 30 minute target or more which would be even better. A little physical activity is better than none, while a moderate amount is even better than a little, and so on. Try to be active wherever you are, whether at home or at college.

 

What is moderate activity?

There is a common misconception that physical activity must involve a strenuous workout of the body to obtain the full benefits. This is not the case as great benefits are obtained from moderate physical activity. Moderate activity is any activity that increases your heart beat, causes you to perspire (sweat slightly), breath quicker but not so much that you cannot carry on a conversation.

Some examples of moderate intensity activities include:

  • brisk walking
  • games and active play
  • dance
  • cycling
  • swimming
  • most sports

It is always important to remember to include activities to develop muscular strength, flexibility and bone health a few times a week also. Examples of these activities include:

  • skipping
  • jumping
  • climbing
  • gymnastics
  • yoga or pilates
  • swimming

These, and similar activities, will all help to make you stronger, more flexible and benefit your bones.

 

Walking

Walking is probably one of the easiest ways to get active no matter where you are, and it’s free.

Taking regular walks will:

  • give you more energy
  • help you feel good and sleep better
  • help you manage your stress
  • increase your stamina
  • tone your muscles and burn up calories
  • strengthen your heart
  • lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • protect against osteoporosis
  • reduce your risk of developing diabetes

Little steps to fit walking into your everyday routine

  • Go outside and walk in any direction for five minutes, by the time you’ve walked back again – you’ve just had a 10 minute walk.
  • Go for a walk during your lunch-break or during a free period.
  • Go walking with a friend. This will provide you with an added incentive to walk and make it safer for you.Step off the bus one or two stops before your final destination and walk the rest of the way.
  • If you would normally drive to see a friend who lives nearby, walk instead.
  • Use the stairs. If you live in an apartment or are in any one of the buildings with elevators on campus – forget the elevator and take the stairs instead.
  • Whenever you can, walk at a faster pace.
  • Walk to the shops – if your local shop is close by, take a longer route to give yourself more walking time.

 

Remember, some activity is better than none at all. Little decisions can go a long way in improving and maintaining your health. Limit the amount of time that you spend on the computer or watching television and try to be more active, it does not have to be difficult. Walk or cycle to and from college whenever possible and during college time move as much as possible and always take the stairs.

 

If you're really looking for a lifestyle change, why not check out UCC's Operation Transformation? This is an exciting opportunity to really get healthy and active with lots of support and assistance whether you are a student or a member of staff!

 

UCC's Clubs welcome & encourage students of all levels of fitness and experience to join in and get involved in an activity. It is a great way to make friends, stay active and to have fun especially during those long the winter evenings! Click here to go to the UCC Clubs and Societies web page for more information on what, where and when UCC Clubs & Societies run.

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