Depending on where you go to university, there's a good chance you shell out good money every semester for student health services. Those services and on-campus clinics include more than just quick visits with a nurse or doctor. You usually get loads of other benefits you'll want to take advantage of. Illustration by Sam Woolley
Student health centres typically offer obvious stuff like free or low-cost nurse visits when you're sick, routine checkups and wellness exams, reproductive and women's care, and a variety of general practitioner services. Here are a few other perks you may not know your student health centre offers.
Free STI Screenings
Most schools have some form of free sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, or at the very least, reduced cost testing. Lots of schools, like the University of Western Australia, offer STI screenings for free whenever you need one. Be sure to pop into your student health centre to see what they offer.
Free Flu (and Other) Vaccinations
You can find cheap flu vaccinations at a lot of places, but there's a good chance your student health centre sets aside a week or two every year to give out free vaccinations to students. This varies a bit by region and school, so be on the lookout for signs around the beginning of cold and flu season.
It's not just flu vaccines either. Many universities offer cheap or free shots, like Monash University. If for some reason you're not up-to-date on your vaccinations, check in at the student health centre for cheap ways to get caught up before school starts.
Free Condoms and Free (or Reduced Cost) Emergency Contraception
If there's a single universal truth amongst student health clinics, it's this: You can get free condoms there. This might vary a little from institution to institution, but it's a consistent free perk at just about every university. Other forms of birth control are often available for a reduced cost as well.
Support to Help You Quit Smoking
Want to quit smoking? That's an excellent decision.
If your campus is smoke-free (and most are, at least implicitly,) there's likely some type of smoking cessation program at the student health services office. For example, Western Sydney University and University of Melbourne both offer smoking cessation counselling. It's also handy to remember that prescription medications like Chantix are covered by PBS.
Free Mental Health Care To Manage Stress
University is a stressful time in your life, but you're not alone. Mental health care, like therapy, counselling, support groups or even peer counselling is often free at your student health centre. This often includes short, crisis-based appointments with therapists on site. The breadth of services offered varies widely, but most universities seem to have at least some type of mental health option available, and it's almost always underutilised.
Some schools go a little further with their perks. University of Technology, Sydney offers individual counselling and group sessions. A lot of schools, like the Victoria University offer reduced cost massages, which is great around exam time. Others, like Western Sydney University offer acupuncture. Depending on the type of school you're attending, you'll find a variety of different stress managements perks, so when things get a little hairy, it's well worth a quick visit to the student health services office.