Here’s how to prepare for and prevent health-related issues at NU


Ava Mandoli/The Daily Northwestern

Students can make appointments through Northwestern Medicine with in-person or telehealth visits with NU doctors.

Iris Swarthout, Senior Staffer

Dorm life creates a social environment unlike any other — students are constantly surrounded by their peers in lounge areas and even living spaces. Still, the close-knit network of peers in which you find yourself might result in a seasonal cold or flu exchange. Whether it’s COVID-19, mononucleosis or any other wellness-related affliction during your time at Northwestern, here are some health care tips that will also help you maximize your use of the Wildcats’ health insurance system. 

Staying healthy — daily routines

For those with specific dietary needs, NU’s dining halls provide kosher, halal, gluten-free, non-dairy, vegetarian and vegan options for students. Students and parents can work with Campus Dietician Lisa Carlson to develop a dining plan if the campus options are too exclusionary. 

Northwestern Medicine Student Health Service Evanston is also open by appointment to discuss dietary issues.

For exercise, students often flock to the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. Located on North Campus, Crown Sports Pavilion houses basketball courts, a swimming pool, squash and racquetball courts, tennis courts, cycling rooms and treadmills. Group exercise classes are also available throughout the year.

Staying healthy — drugs and alcohol

Yes, college students drink, but it’s also smart to acknowledge the risks and side effects and when to step back. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends drinkers limit themselves to two or fewer drinks a day for men and one or fewer drinks a day for women to avoid the risk of alcohol-related harm. Though major health problems — like the deterioration of the liver — can be reduced by limiting yourself to a drink or two per day, binge-drinking once or twice a week can lead to impairment of decision-making.

Marijuana is legal in Illinois for those 21 and older, but the Illinois Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer advises people to use the drug responsibly. It recommends taking edibles slowly, eating beforehand, storing cannabis safely, learning the risks of vaping, using cannabis in moderation, purchasing from licensed sellers and refraining from driving while under the influence.   

What to do in the event of sickness

If you fall sick or are in need of health assistance, Health Service is available to discuss your needs and determine a treatment. 

Students can make health appointments through MyNM — a portal that provides students with in-person or telehealth visits with NU doctors. Visits fall into General Medicine, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Sports Medicine categories, and Searle is open on weekdays between 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. For urgent issues, call the After Hours Nurse Call Line. Additionally, the NM Immediate Care Center Evanston, located on 1630 Sherman Ave., is open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Mental health

NU’s Counseling and Psychological Services is available with trained therapists throughout the academic year to help with your mental health. You can schedule a virtual appointment or schedule a same-day meeting.

CAPS is dedicated to establishing a personal care plan that best aligns with your needs. After your first appointment, a therapist might direct you to short-term individual counseling or group therapy, for instance. Due to a low number of CAPS workers and a high volume of students needing mental health services, many have experienced long appointment wait times resulting in a student movement to reform its services.

In the event NU’s CAPS does not align with your needs or is inaccessible, you can still utilize support services within the Evanston community. NU’s Student Health Insurance Plan helps pay for many mental health services within the area. Additionally, if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges, feel free to call the National Mental Health Hotline at 866-903-3787.


NU-SHIP is NU’s health insurance coverage given to students depending on eligibility. Students are required to fill out the health insurance questionnaire at the start of every year to determine whether they are eligible for the service, though they are automatically enrolled until otherwise. 

If you are an international student, you are required to get NU-SHIP regardless of your previous insurance in your home country. The student premium is $4,698 for the year, but financial aid can cover up to the full cost of it depending on your family’s income.

NU-SHIP partially covers in-network provider costs for a variety of health needs, including prescription drugs and emergency room visits, and can cover some out-of-network provider costs as well. Vision and dental insurance is not covered by NU-SHIP, but it can be purchased separately.

Psychological service centers that take NU-SHIP can provide students with discounted sessions. Students partaking in therapy have a $20 limit per appointment under NU-SHIP.

If you do not qualify for NU-SHIP but run into issues with your health insurance provider, you can speak with Health Service throughout the year to discuss adopting the University’s plan along with other financial aid-related issues. 

 Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @swarthout_iris

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