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Cougar Health Services Educational Info

Protect yourself from flu

girl using hand sanitizer

We’re in the middle of a very active flu season and we’re starting to see cases of influenza at our medical clinic. Here’s how you can protect yourself from the flu and get the care you need!

Know the symptoms

Make sure you know the symptoms of flu and cold, and when to see a health care provider. Remember that flu viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics.

If you feel sick, stay home

You might not want to miss class, work, or other responsibilities, but the most important thing you can do is rest and avoid spreading germs to others.

According to the university policy on absences, instructors cannot require written excuses from health care professionals. If your instructor asks for a note, you can provide the Cougar Health Services letter on excused student absences.

Get medical care

You can make an appointment at our medical clinic online or over the phone. Keep in mind that our same-day appointments are limited due to short-staffing. If you need or want to seek care from a community provider, we can help you with referrals and questions.

You can also call our main line at 509-335-3575 for 24/7 advice from nursing staff. When the clinic is closed, your call will be directed to a nurse at Harborview Medical Center.

If you have mild cold or flu symptoms, check out our guide on managing symptoms at home.

Protect yourself from flu

Try to avoid spreading germs and practice healthy habits for preventing flu. If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, there’s still time! The peak of flu season can run through March, and flu activity can continue until May.

Flu shots are covered in full by most insurances. Check with your insurance provider for details on your coverage and where to go. You can check with our clinic on our flu shot supplies and make an appointment by calling 509-335-3575.

WSU Monitoring 2019 Novel Coronavirus

The health of the Cougar community is our priority. We want to provide accurate resources for current information and preventative tips to help minimize the spread of illness. Updates that are specific to the WSU community will be provided on the Cougar Health Services website.

We are working with Whitman County Public Health and other University leadership to monitor an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed the first cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the U.S. Current information about the coronavirus is provided by the CDC

What is this novel coronavirus (2019‑nCoV)?

2019‑nCoV is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Since then, the virus has been identified in multiple other countries, including cases in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:

  • It is newly identified, so much is still unknown about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS‑CoV and SARS‑CoV, have caused severe illness.

What is the risk?

The CDC considers this new virus a serious public health threat. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak an international public health emergency.

That said, the CDC considers the immediate health risk from 2019‑nCoV to the general American public to be low at this time. There are no confirmed cases among WSU community members.

As of January 31, 2020, there are only six confirmed cases in the United States, one of which is in Snohomish County and is unrelated to WSU.

Information about the symptoms, transmission and treatment for 2019‑nCoV is available on the CDC webpage.

Can you travel to or from China?

The CDC has issued a level 3 warning for travel to China and recommends avoiding all non‑essential travel to China. The U.S. Department of State updated its China Travel Advisory on January 30, 2020, to “Do Not Travel” to China.

Accordingly, we ask that members of the WSU community not travel to China, until such time as the CDC and Department of State downgrade their travel advisories.

If you must travel to China:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their health care provider.

In addition, if you must travel to China, register your travel through WSU’s international travel insurance. By registering your travel, emergency assistance is more readily available and you will have access to specific risk information about your destination(s).

What are the best prevention measures?

There is no vaccine to prevent this virus. The CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Where is WSU posting information about the 2019‑nCoV outbreak?

Updates and additional information are available on the Cougar Health Services website.

If you have questions about travel to or from China, please contact Global Services in International Programs: ip.globalservices@wsu.edu; 509‑335‑4508.

If you have personal medical questions, please contact your medical provider.

 

AS A REMINDER, WE ARE STILL IN AN ACTIVE FLU SEASON:

The flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from getting the flu. For students, Cougar Health Services still has flu vaccines available. Schedule an appointment for a flu shot by calling 509-335-3575.

For more information about the Coronavirus, international travel safety, the seasonal flu, and ways to stay healthy, please visit the following links:

 

Consent and sex: What you need to know

Close up to two peoples' shoes

College students around the country have lots of questions about consent and sex. So let’s talk about it. WSU has a specific definition of consent when it comes to sexual activity: it must be clear, knowing, and voluntary. Consent is important because it involves giving and getting permission. This ensures both people feel comfortable and makes the experience that much better.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to have an awkward conversation that completely ruins the moment or sign a contract to get consent. Getting clear, knowing, voluntary consent is easy. Getting and giving consent is ongoing and involves checking in with your partner both verbally and non-verbally. For example, ask yourself:

  • Do they look happy to be there?
  • Do they say “yes” when you ask if they like what is happening?
  • Do they know what they are consenting to?

Alcohol or drug use can impact the ability to give consent.  When someone is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, they lose the ability to be fully aware of what’s going on around them. If someone doesn’t know what’s going on, then they’re unable to give consent. Ask yourself, “Do I feel comfortable letting this person drive right now?”  If your answer is not a definitive and instant ”yes”, then it’s a good time to step back and assess whether or not that person is able to give consent.

In a nutshell, consent means giving and getting permission to engage in sexual activity.  It means you and your partner both really want to be doing what you’re doing, and you’re both excited about it and enjoy it. Getting and giving consent is about being a good partner and making sure everyone is in agreement.

Want to learn more? Check out this video by sex educator Laci Green entitled, Wanna Have Sex? (Consent 101). (Please note this video includes strong language and sexual content.)

 

Violence prevention toolkit for faculty & staff

Violence prevention toolkit for faculty & staff

As faculty and staff, we’re in a unique position to shape the climate of the university. We typically stay in the area and at the university longer, and many of us are in frequent contact with students.

When it comes to violence prevention, there are many ways faculty and staff help set the tone for students. You can play a critical role in efforts to reduce sex- and gender-based violence on campus.

Stalking, intimate partner violence and sexual assault are complex, difficult problems to address and it’s easy to become discouraged.

We firmly believe that while no one can do everything to stop violence, everyone can do something. To get started, check out our toolkit below for ideas and resources you can use in the year ahead.

For faculty

 For all employees

By taking action in our everyday lives, we can all do something to help stop violence on our campus.

How to overcome the bystander effect

How to overcome the bystander effect

While most of us are sympathetic toward helping someone, the bystander effect can prevent us from stepping in. The bystander effect is when a group of people sees a problem or someone in need, but no one does anything to help.

Why don’t we help? One reason why people choose not to help is because they observe and follow what other people are doing. So if everyone is passing by and not paying attention, we conclude that what’s happening isn’t a big deal. After all, no one else looks concerned.

You’ve probably experienced a similar phenomenon in class. The professor asks if there are any questions, and since everyone else looks like they understand, you decide to not ask your question. When we follow social queues from others it becomes easy to make assumptions that are not true.

So what can you do? Next time you see someone who needs help, pay attention to your reaction. You might be tempted to ignore what’s happening because no one else is doing anything. Instead, stop and ask the person who appears to need help if they’re okay.

Another reason why people don’t help is because of the diffusion of responsibility. This is when you assume another person will step in or someone more qualified will help. And when there are more people present, like at a party, the less likely it is someone else will help.

If you notice something like possible symptoms of alcohol poisoning, a couple fighting, or something else that just doesn’t feel right, don’t wait for someone else to step in – take action immediately.

What can you do? Recruit a specific person and ask for their help. Then give that person a specific job like calling 911 or turning down the music.

Overcoming the bystander effect can be difficult, but the solution is to recognize these instinctive responses and decide to help anyway.

Try light therapy for seasonal affective disorder

Try light therapy for seasonal affective disorder

When the fall and winter months roll around and there’s less sunlight, some people experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD is a type of depression that occurs during a specific season, and subsides for the rest of the year. Symptoms of SAD are different for everyone, but they can include low energy, poor mood, fatigue, and similar symptoms.

How light therapy can help

If you’re experiencing SAD or other types of depression, consider trying light therapy. Light therapy involves using a specialized lamp that mimics real sunshine and produces similar benefits. It can help improve mood, regulate sleep hormones, increase levels of vitamin D, and relieve other symptoms of SAD.

For best results, our healthcare providers recommend using light therapy for 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning. You’ll want to sit 16 inches to two feet away from the light, without looking directly into it.

Before you try light therapy, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about risks, benefits, and other special considerations.

What to look for when buying a light therapy lamp

Want to buy your own light therapy unit? Try to get one with at least 10,000 lux. This level of light is optimal for reducing symptoms of SAD.

If you’re a client with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), you can use the light therapy lamp in their relaxation room (Washington Building room 302A). To access this lamp, all you need to do is talk with a CAPS staff member at the front desk during regular business hours.

Light therapy is just one treatment option for SAD and other types of depression. There are many other options you can try! If you’re experiencing any symptoms of depression, don’t hesitate to drop in during Counseling and Psychological Services’ walk-in hours, or make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Violence prevention for graduate students

Violence prevention for graduate students

As a graduate student, you can take an active role to stop violence from happening on our campus. By knowing what your barriers are and what you can do about them, you’ll be ready to make WSU a safer place to live, work, and learn.

Violence prevention for a graduate student will probably be different than it would for an undergraduate. Conversations about violence sometimes focus on social settings like parties where people are drinking, but maybe you’ve seen someone in a professional or academic setting do something hurtful. This could be a faculty member, fellow graduate student, or one of your students.

Gender-based violence and other harmful behavior like harassment and discrimination can come in many different forms and can happen regardless of education or position.

We all experience barriers to taking action when we see something that concerns us. As a graduate or professional student you might’ve felt:

  • Scared of professional retaliation
  • Hesitant because it’s not your business
  • Worried about what others in your department will think if you spoke up
  • Uncertain about who you can talk to
  • Concerned about power dynamics in a relationship (for example, committee chair and student, supervising faculty member and TA or RA, lab partner and you)

So how can you work around these barriers? The answer is to direct, delegate, or distract.

Direct. Do something yourself. If you’re concerned about someone, ask them directly how they’re doing and if you can help. If a lab mate or a student appear to be struggling, ask questions like, “Hey, is everything going okay?” or, “Do you need anything?”

Delegate. Ask someone else for help. Sometimes you aren’t the best person to intervene in a given situation. Asking someone else for help is always an option. Talk with your department chair, a faculty member you trust, or a fellow student.

Concerned about a student under your supervision? Contact the AWARE Network. The AWARE Network allows you to share concerns about a student’s emotional or psychological wellbeing, physical health, or academic performance with colleagues who can help.

Distract. Diffuse the situation by diverting people’s attention. For example, if you see someone treating another person in a way that’s not okay, try to distract from what’s happening. For example, you could chime in and start a conversation about an unrelated topic.

If you or someone you know experiences harassment, discrimination or gender-based violence there are resources available to help.

Want to learn more about how you can prevent violence? Check out our toolkit for faculty and staff and sign up for updates on violence prevention.

Overcome the stress of perfection

Overcome the stress of perfection

Having high expectations for yourself can be a good thing. It can help you excel at your job and in class. But having standards that are too high can lead to stress and feelings of frustration when they’re not met.

Perfectionism is the tendency to set standards so high, they’re unattainable or only met with great difficulty. Someone who has perfectionist tendencies believes that anything short of perfect is a problem and fears making mistakes.

The effects of perfectionism

Feelings. Perfectionism can cause you to feel depressed, frustrated, anxious, and even angry. If you tend to criticize yourself for not doing what you think is a good job, these feelings can be more intense.

Thinking. You might think anything less than perfect is a failure. You may believe your self-worth depends on your achievements and that others judge you based on your accomplishments.

Behaviors. Perfectionism can cause you to chronically procrastinate, have difficulty completing tasks, or give up easily on something because you don’t feel it’s perfect. Perfectionism can also keep you from being creative and innovative.

Mental health. Perfectionism is related to eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and stress.

So how can you tell if perfectionism has gotten out of hand? Ask yourself:

  • Is it difficult for me to meet my own expectations?
  • Do I feel frustrated, depressed, anxious, or angry when I try to meet my standards?
  • Do my standards get in the way of doing what I want or need to do?
  • Do they make it difficult for me to meet deadlines, finish a task, trust others, or be spontaneous?

Tips for overcoming perfectionism

Think realistically. Challenge negative self-talk with realistic statements and self-compassion. For example, when you start to be overly critical of yourself, try to be kind and remind yourself nobody is perfect.

Try a new perspective. When you don’t meet your own expectations, try and view yourself as a friend would. They’d probably highlight positive things. Sure, you didn’t work out five days last week, but you made it to the gym three times and that’s a perfectly reasonable amount.

Conquer procrastination. Perfectionists tend to put off to dos because they may be unsure how to do something perfectly. Try practicing self-compassion for overcoming procrastination.

Create realistic expectations. You have a limited amount of time and energy. Try to spend these resources on projects, assignments, and other things that are most important. Prioritizing your to do list and setting SMART goals can help you set realistic expectations.

Allow yourself to make mistakes. You might fear making mistakes, but making them is a completely natural and expected part of human existence. After you make a few mistakes, you’ll realize it’s not the worst that can happen.

The content in this post is adapted from Anxiety BC®’s guide on “How to overcome perfectionism.”

Community safety starts with a conversation

Community safety starts with a conversation

Creating a culture of support for survivors of stalking, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault is essential for making our community a safer place.

When you share your knowledge about healthy relationships or how to support a survivor, it creates a ripple effect which improves our community’s well-being.

Plus, hearing about these issues from people we already know and trust is a major factor in changing unhealthy cultural attitudes toward violence.

So how can you start a conversation about violence? Here are some tips to help.

Know your barriers. Personal barriers can prevent us from starting tough conversations. You might be afraid of what others will think of you or feel like you’re not qualified to talk about this important issue. The key is to learn what your personal barriers are and find ways to overcome them.

Watch a movie and discuss it. Next time you watch a movie or TV show with someone, talk about the characters’ relationships – are they healthy or unhealthy? Being able to identify these behaviors in media can help you notice them in real life, either in your own relationship or someone else’s.

Share what you’ve read. Have you read something recently about violence that caught your attention? Talk with friends or family about how it impacted you. Ask them what they think and share your thoughts.

Get active on social media. Follow organizations and individuals who are posting about violence prevention and healthy relationships. Like or share posts from accounts like WSU Coug Health, Alternatives to Violence on the Palouse, and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

If you’re not sure what to share, considering posting a positive story or video about someone who took action to ensure another person’s safety.

Show your support for violence prevention. Stop by our programs and outreach office for a keychain or a sticker for your water bottle! You never know what will spark a conversation.

Don’t forget there are other ways you can help prevent violence. When more Cougs take action, less violence happens in our community!

Flu or cold? Know the symptoms

Cold versus flu

All of the sudden, something hits you, you have a headache, your body aches, you develop a cough… Is it the flu or is it a cold? Do you need to see the doctor? Sometimes it’s hard to know if you have a cold or your symptoms are flu related.

Viruses cause both colds and flus, so the symptoms are similar. Flu symptoms usually come on all of a sudden and are more severe than a cold, while cold symptoms come on more gradually.

Flu symptoms:

  • Sudden onset
  • Fever greater than 101 degrees
  • Cough
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Chills, fatigue
  • Deep muscle and/or joint aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/ or diarrhea

Cold symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny and/or stuffy nose, sneezing
  • Feeling tired
  • Mild cough
  • Mild fever

The flu can have severe complications, so it’s good to know when to see a doctor.

If your cold symptoms last longer than 10 – 14 days and are getting worse or not improving you should see a healthcare provider.

If you have a mild flu or cold, learn how to manage your symptoms at home.

If you need advice on over-the-counter medication to take, visit our pharmacy or call 509-335-5742.

Lower your chances of contracting the flu by getting a flu vaccine.