“Man needs difficulties,” Carl Jung once opined, “they are necessary for health.”
If this is true, the biggest benefit you will get out of our campus’s healthcare providers might come from trying to schedule an appointment with them. Wait times have improved in the past several months, but the perennial student complaints continue. Meanwhile, although it has been nearly a year since all health-related services on campus were reorganized and consolidated, confusion continues to reign about where to go for what.
But this need not be the case. Here’s the basic rundown. All health and wellness programs on campus fall under the umbrella of Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS). SHCS, like the federal government (but with less squabbling over birth control), is divided into three branches: the Student Health Service (SHS), the Student Counseling Service (SCS) and Health Promotion and Wellness.
The Student Health Service, located in the dungeon-like Suite R-100 of the hospital’s Wyler Pavilion, is your appointment-only go-to for the basic preventative care and treatment covered by your Student Life Fee. In addition to visits with physicians, nurses, and other health professionals, SHS provides STD testing, Pap tests, flu and allergy shots, safer-sex products, and certain types of lab tests and physical therapy services. Nutrition, sports medicine, and travel health consultations are also available. If you have a bad cold or mysterious rash, give them a ring at (773) 702-4156, or (773) 702-1915 for after-hours advice from a nurse.
For more specialized care, you may have to look elsewhere, and be prepared to use your University Student Health Insurance Plan (U-SHIP) or private insurance to cover it. And if you are hemorrhaging blood or going into convulsions, hope your friends have the good sense to convey you to the emergency room.
The Student Counseling Service, housed across from the Main Quad at 5737 South University Avenue, is the University’s center for mental health care. After an initial intake appointment to discuss their needs, students may be referred to short-term individual or couples therapy, substance abuse treatment, medication management, academic assistance, or support groups, all covered by your Student Life Fee. If longer-term care is needed, expect to be given recommendations for outside clinicians. SCS also sponsors “Let’s Talk,” informal and confidential counseling sessions offered several times a week and open to all. It can be reached at (773) 702-9800. If the office is closed, and it’s an emergency, call (773) 702-3625.
Finally, Health Promotion and Wellness exists to integrate body and spirit with the life of the mind. Their staff and Peer Health Educators (you can apply to be one yourself spring quarter) distribute information and advice on a variety of topics related to well-being, from anxiety management to better posture. A group of your peers will be in training to give free back rubs as the U of C’s first “Stressbusters” team, starting this fall, too. They also promote the seemingly endless number of meditation workshops on campus; try them once, if only to experience what total silence in Rockefeller Chapel feels like.
Even University administrators have admitted that health services on campus are confusing and suffer from poor customer service and unacceptably long wait times. However, with the wealth of professional resources they have available, they are still your best bet for addressing physical and mental heath needs. So if you anticipate needing assistance, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with SCS or SHS—just try to call far in advance.