Confessions of a Public Health student.
Studying in Sweden confronts you with a unique social and physical environment. Just look at the never-ending sights of bikers, numerous student activities and Swedish academic life – all of them shaping your health and wellbeing.
A beauty of studying Public Health is that you will gain a comprehensive view on health and access knowledge about health issues and their underlying determinants. That´s why I took the initiative to investigate health issues which may impact your being as a student in Sweden.
I kindly refer them as “Neglected Student Diseases” – here they are:
You feel like all your biological battery has decided to turn down and you have the increased desirability of craving Swedish high-carb delicacies, especially in the winter months.
I am sure that you have already met this symptom or have witnessed other students being affected of them (I literally saw a classmate holding his cell phone to his face to enjoy the artificial rays of sunlight).
I now proudly present you the medical term of this phenomena: Seasonal Affective Disorder.
As already referred by my fellow bloggers, undeniably you will get to experience the Swedish darkness during your stay at Lund University.
That´s when your inner biologic rhythm decides to riot.
What may sound as an awful health issue, will reveal itself probably as this: Awful. (Thanks Maria for warning the student population).
From the depths of my heart, I hope that you will never get the chance to experience this one. Because prepare for meeting misery in person, accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.
You can thank this the Norovirus (Winter vomiting bug), more common in winter and spread through food or physical contact. And it is highly contagious.
Therefore I would like to give you a traditional, but gold Public Health plan of action you can regularly practice by yourself and also share it with your environment and future generations:
WASH. YOUR. HANDS. Before you eat. Before you cook. Before you make physical contact with others or yourself (your eyes, mouth and nose). Also, we are all aware that you are in a very intimate relationship with your electronic devices considering the number of physical contacts. But for the sake of your fellow student colleagues, don´t bring your beloved cell phone to places which are primarily for excreting toxins from your body (or if, then clean your device regularly).
See those statements as a small imprint of the social contract.
Trust me: it´s a real thing. Maybe you have read my subtle cry for my home city Vienna.
Leaving home is beautiful – but the other moment you find yourself in an environment of excessive coffee-drinkers, strangers and full of Swedes.
No wonder your body and mind are suffering from this withdrawal of familiarity and home.
No, it´s not about your probability to end up in a padded cell (at least not primarily).
Well, here is a definition of mental health by the World Health Organization (WHO):
„Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.“
How does this translate into reality?
It´s your coping mechanisms for stress during exam period. But it´s also the anxieties and critical voices in your head, limiting your academic performance.
You see, mental health occurs in diverse forms.
My important take-home message as a Public Health professional and fellow student:
It´s ok to talk about your mental health.
So what now?
I am assuming that you are expecting me to give you an exact prescription on what to do to get cured from this Neglected Student Diseases. I have to disappoint you now, I am not a doctor.
I am a Public Health professional. My primary goal is to create environments promoting health and preventing illness.
What you can do…
…. for medical emergencies: call 112
…. for non-emergency health care, if you need medical advice: call 1177
…. for increasing your ability to cope with academic stress: Visit the Academic Support Centre
…. for concerns regarding mental health: Visit the Student Health Centre