Do you have questions about sex, drinking, stress or your health in general? Too shy or too busy to ask in person? Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness has an online resource called Ask a Nurse. It was created to allow Dal students to ask anonymous personal health-related questions to a health professional without the need for an appointment. On the website you can also scroll through the frequently asked questions page to see what other students are asking. Here are the top 5 questions that have been submitted so far.
#5: What does the Dalhousie Health Centre offer for STI tests?
Have you changed sexual partners, had unprotected sex, or just want to make sure your sexual health is all in the clear? The Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness Centre, on the second floor of LeMarchant Place, provides self-swabs/ urine samples (try not to pee two hours prior to urine samples) to test for the two most common sexually transmitted infections: gonorrhea and chlamydia. For further testing of STIs such as HIV, Hep B, and syphilis, a blood work requisition can be provided after seeing a physician at the health clinic. These infections are less common so they’re not tested as often but are still available.
Ensuring your sexual health is so important! Many people with STIs don’t have any symptoms and can still pass the infection onto their partners. Getting tested is normal and important so don’t be embarrassed! Dalhousie Nursing students also offer pop-up STI check booths on most Wednesdays in Halifax that only require your health card and self-swabs. Learn more at dal.ca/stiscreening.
#4: Do I need to get another dose of the Tdap vaccine that I got when I was young?
Around the ages of 4–6, most children receive the DTap vaccine and then will receive the Tdap vaccine around ages 11–12. These vaccines protect individuals from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. If you received these vaccines as a child, then you’ll only need a booster (called the Td booster) every 10 years. However, if you aren’t sure if you already received the original vaccine protecting against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis when you were younger, then we recommend you visit your family doctor or the Student Health & Wellness Centre (in Halifax) or Health Services (in Truro) to inquire about the further need for a vaccine update.
#3: I’m feeling anxious lately, and it’s starting to affect my studies. I want to go in and see someone but my anxiety is holding me back. What do I do?
It can be very challenging to manage our emotions and you’re doing the right thing by reaching out. It can be overwhelming to seek help in person. The Health and Wellness Centre offers an online resource called WellTrack—a self-help program that targets anxiety, stress, and depression among other issues. It’s completely free and confidential, and you can decide to share your information with a coach who is trained in these areas and can help you either by email or phone. This may be a good resource to start with as it’s easy to access whenever and wherever you want. This could be the stepping stone that may help you with not feeling overwhelmed and building the confidence to speak to someone face to face. The Health & Wellness Centre in Halifax has trained counsellors on site who can meet with you when you’re ready. All post-secondary students in Nova Scotia can also access the Good2Talk telephone support service (1-833-292-3698), available 24/7/365 for any emotional issues.
#2: I got the flu shot earlier this year. Do I need to get it again?
The flu shot is a safe vaccination that helps protect against the flu (influenza). It’s important to get the flu shot every year as the flu virus changes yearly. This means that the vaccination also has to change each year based on the strains of the flu virus that are most likely to cause illness to the public the following flu season. It’s best to get the flu shot in October or November, before the flu season starts; however, you can get the vaccination any time between October and April. You can drop by Student Health and Wellness Centre or one of the mobile clinics around Dalhousie (dal.ca/flu).
#1: Who do I talk to about depression? I didn’t want to make an appointment if it wasn’t necessary. Is there anyone on campus who deals specifically with mental health or should I make an appointment at Dal Health?
The Student Health & Wellness Centre in Halifax offers a walk- in counselling service that allows you to speak to someone initially without an appointment. It operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sessions with the counsellors typically last 30–50 minutes and will help to address any immediate concerns you have. After the initial session you can make an appointment to further address your concerns. Student Health & Wellness also offers an online course called WellTrack (see Question #3), which is a self-help program that addresses topics such as depression. WellTrack also provides you with the option to share your information with a WellTrack coach who can help guide you and provide you with different coping strategies.