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Frequently Asked Questions

What is wellness/well-being?

  • As defined by the Global Wellness Institute, wellness is the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.
  • The holistic nature of health and wellness refers to the Eight Dimensions of Wellness framework we use to illustrate all the areas that make up a person’s overall well-being and the vast array of resources and support services available to foster your wellness.

I want to talk to someone about my well-being. Where can I go?

  • Begin by narrowing down what you want to focus on by exploring the Eight Dimensions of Wellness and the corresponding resources available to you. If you aren't sure, or truly want to explore all areas more broadly, contact Health Promotion and Wellness to set up an appointment for an individual wellness coaching session.

What is adequate/healthy sleep and how much do I need?

  • 7-9 hours is what most healthy adults need to be adequately rested and avoid negative health outcomes associated with sleep deprivation. For additional information on sleep, visit the National Sleep Foundation.

How can I better manage my current financial needs and plan my future financial needs while in college?

I am concerned about my drinking. What can I do?

I am concerned about my friend’s substance use. What can I do?

  • If your concern is because of an emergency situation, call 911. If you are looking for more information, visit the Alcohol and Other Drugs Resources website and review the warning signs and how to help sections.

Now that cannabis is legal in Illinois, can I use it while I’m at Northwestern?

  • Nobody can use or possess cannabis while on campus or at University-sponsored events and activities. Answers to other common questions around cannabis use can be found on the Cannabis Policy FAQ page.

I don’t drink and struggle to find social opportunities that don’t involve alcohol or other substances. Where can I find like-minded friends?

  • It’s important to know that ~20% of college students don’t drink, and many more do not use alcohol as a primary social component, so you are far from alone. There are also numerous organized events that do not involve alcohol hosted through NU Nights.

Is vaping as harmful as smoking regular cigarettes?

  • While vaping has been viewed by some as a less harmful form of ingesting substances like nicotine or THC, vaping products come with their own list of harmful substances that get inhaled into the lungs. Vaping can also increase your likelihood to become addicted to nicotine and begin using regular cigarettes. More information can be found at The Truth and Truth Initiative. We have also created a vaping awareness campaign to help educate our campus about the risks associated with vaping.
  • More information on the risks associated with vaping and electronic cigarettes can be found on the CDC's website.

If I need help navigating health care or have questions about my medical bill, is there someone I can talk to about this?

  • For Northwestern students using the Health Service on the Evanston Campus, the Patient Advocacy Coordinator in Patient Support Services may be contacted at support@northwestern.edu and provides the following services:
    • guidance on student financial support for medical expenses
    • determining eligibility for healthcare services available to students
    • coordinating referrals and pre-authorization for specialty medical care or medical diagnostic testing
    • scheduling an appointment with a specialist or for medical diagnostic testing
    • interpreting medical bills and Explanation of Benefits statement (EOB forms)
    • assistance with patient satisfaction with healthcare services

What types of fitness programs and equipment do students have access to?

  • NU Recreation offers a variety of group fitness programs as well as personal training and has multiple facilities providing a variety of spaces and equipment to suit your fitness needs.

I used to play sports in high school. How do I get involved in athletics on campus?

How often should I go to the doctor?

  • This certainly depends on your personal healthcare needs and should always be discussed and planned with your doctor.
  • Generally, for those in good health seeking preventative care, here are some guidelines for common health check-ups:
  • Primary Care Doctor (for physical exams) should be scheduled every 1-3 years
  • Optometrist (eye doctor) every 1-2 years
  • Dentist every 6-12 months
  • Gynecologist every year

Where can I get safer sex supplies on campus?

  • Safer sex supplies, including condoms and lube, can be picked up for free on the 3rd floor of Searle (Health Service building) in the waiting area for HPaW and CARE. More information on sexual health can be found on CARE’s website.

How do I get tested for STDs at NUHS?

  • NUHS offers a number of STD tests, including HIV, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea. You will need to make an appointment to be seen by a Health Service practitioner who can order a test. For complete information on testing available at NUHS, visit their webpage.

How do I control the interplay between FOMO and Northwestern’s existing involvement and social cultures?

  • Begin by asking yourself, “Why am I engaging in a certain activity?” If your answer isn’t one that is supporting your overall well-being or is dominating certain dimensions and hindering others, that may be the first indication it is time to rethink engaging in that activity. Accepting that we cannot participate in everything that is offered to us during college is healthy. Finding a balance between academics, social life, and personal time during college is a part of the growth that will benefit you throughout life. Presented here are 10 ways to overcome fear of missing out.

How long should I exercise for?

  • General guidance for most healthy adults suggests 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week (~30 minutes, 5 days per week), 75 minutes of vigorous cardio per week, or a combination of the two, with strength training 2 days a week spaced at least 48 hours between for recovery. Start low (lighter weights) and slow (fast walking) until you build up to more and incorporate stretching to avoid injuries. Northwestern Recreation offers personal fitness assessments to students, which can be a great way to learn what is best for you.
  • Examples of workout routines and what types of exercises fall into each category can be found on the CDCs website.

Where can I find information on dietary needs and healthier eating?

I'm worried about my friend’s mental health and need somebody to talk to. Where can I go and what can I do?

  • Having concerns about a friend and wanting to help them is normal. However, it is important to know when something is at a point beyond your ability to help or at a level of concern that warrants immediate professional help.
  • CAPS staff are available to students who are in non-life-threatening crisis on a same-day basis. Either call us at 847-491-2151 to arrange a crisis appointment or walk over and tell the receptionist that you need to see the Crisis Counselor.
  • If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go to your local emergency room.
  • Less urgent support options exist as well including Let’s Talk or calling a peer through Wildchat.