For those of you who are returning to Stevenson, welcome back! To those of you are new to Stevenson, we, at the Wellness Center, are excited to meet you!
A new school year means a new beginning, new faces, and new relationships. The first blog of this school year addresses the latter.
At Stevenson, our diverse students come to campus from various cultural backgrounds and experiences. Throughout our lives, we have learned how to build, maintain, and sometimes lose, relationships with family members, friends, partners, classmates, teammates, neighbors and many others. In fact, there are thousands of books, movies, songs, and blogs about this topic that may come to mind. So what makes a healthy relationship?
- Healthy Communication – Open, honest and safe communication is the backbone of a healthy relationship.1 Understanding each other’s needs and expectations is important to building a relationship. This means you have to talk to each other! A few tips to maintain healthy communication include:
· Speak up. If something is bothering you, it is best to share rather than hold it in.1
· Respect Each Other. Your partner’s thoughts and feelings have value, and so do yours. It is important to address your partner and let them know you are making an effort to keep their ideas in mind.1
· Compromise. Disagreements are a natural part of a healthy relationship, but it is important to find ways to compromise.1
· Be Supportive. Relationships thrive when each member is kind, accepting, encouraging, and empathic.1
· Respect Each Other’s Privacy. Being in a relationship does not require you to share everything and always be together. Healthy relationships require space.1
- Healthy Boundaries – Creating boundaries is not a sign of secrecy or distrust. It ensures a healthy relationship by expressing what makes you feel comfortable and what you want/do not want in the relationship. This includes physical, emotional and sexual boundaries. Remember, healthy boundaries shouldn’t restrict your ability to go out with friends without your partner or not have to share passwords to your phone, email, or social media accounts.1
The CDC estimates that youth ages 15-24 account for HALF of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STI) that occur in the U.S. EACH YEAR.2 The providers at the Wellness Center diagnose many students with STIs every semester. STIs are diseases that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact (vaginal, anal, oral sex or skin-to-skin contact). These include chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis (“trich”), genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, and HIV. Many of these STIs do not show symptoms for a long time which is why we encourage ALL students who are sexually active (even those in a monogamous relationship) to use barriers such as condoms AND to get tested for STI at least once a year. Most of these diseases can be tested through a simple urine test.
At the Wellness Center, you can make an appointment to be seen by a healthcare provider where we will ask you a few questions, perform an exam if necessary, and send the urine to a lab for analysis. The STI test can be processed through insurance or you can pay out of pocket. We usually receive the results in 2 days (depending on the day of the week). If you require treatment, we dispense some of the medications at the Wellness Center. The visit, lab results, and treatment remain confidential.
If you are taking contraceptive (birth control) pills, injection, patch, vaginal ring, or IUD, please understand that these DO NOT prevent STI transmission. We have FREE condoms at the Wellness Center. They are in a basket by the door so you do not need to schedule a visit to receive them. Please stop by and grab a few (or more)!
1National Domestic Violence Hotline. (2017). Healthy relationships. Retrieved on August 28, 2019 from https://www.loveisrespect.org/healthy-relationships/
2Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Adolescents and young adults. Retrieved on August 29, 2019 from https://www.cdc.gov/std/life-stages-populations/stdfact-teens.htm
3Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). CDC Fact Sheet: Information for teens and young adults: staying healthy and preventing STDs. Retrieved on August 29, 2019 from https://www.cdc.gov/std/life-stages-populations/stdfact-teens.htm