How does my student make an appointment for counseling?
Your student can call or email for an appointment. The student must make the appointment themselves; parents cannot make counseling appointments for their students.
How will I know if my student is in distress or needs help?
Sometimes students can have a hard time transitioning to college, and this is completely normal. Many students are able to navigate this transition without much trouble, but sometimes it can become overwhelming and students can feel isolated, scared, discouraged, anxious or depressed. You know your student well, so if you have a concern, talk to them about it. In general, here are some common warning signs to look out for:
- Uncharacteristically poor performance or preparation
- Disruptive behavior that represents a marked change from previous behaviors
- Excessive absence or tardiness, especially if they had previously not exhibited this pattern
- Marked changes in demeanor and how they interact with friends/family
- Referring to suicide or homicide in verbal statements or writing
- Changes in personal hygiene
- Dramatic weight gain or loss
- Uncharacteristic irritability, dramatic changes in mood, intense emotions and/or outbursts
- Evidence of self-harm (cutting, burning, etc.)
How can I help my student if I think they are in distress?
It can be difficult to know how to help your student, especially if you are not nearby. Remember that the transition to college includes students taking more responsibility for themselves, and they may or may not want to discuss their concerns with you. This is normal, and we know it is frustrating. If they do not wish to speak with you, encourage them to talk with a close friend or maybe another relative.
If your student is willing, it may be helpful to speak with them privately about your concerns. Making sure to address the issue in a secure location will help to minimize embarrassment and defensiveness. You can express your concern to your student in a non-judgmental manner. Make sure you listen to your student and allow them to share their concerns without cutting them off or trying to solve their problems. Help normalize the fact that they are having a hard time and remind them they are not alone; many students feel this way, especially when they first start college or have a lot of stress occurring outside of school. You can inform them of the services we offer and provide them with our contact information if you’d like. Your student may or may not choose to pursue counseling, but you can let them know you care and that there are resources available to them on campus.
It can also be helpful to have realistic expectations about your student’s transition. Even the best students in high school often struggle academically and socially when they first begin college. Remember that students are learning to take responsibility for their lives in many capacities, so expect it to be a bit challenging at first.
I’m worried about my student but not sure if I should talk to them about it. What should I do?
We are here to consult with you if you believe your student may be in distress. We can provide basic feedback and help you better understand our services as well as other services available to students on campus. We can also provide referrals for mental health professionals in the community if it is apparent your student’s needs will exceed what we can provide through our center.
Can I call you to discuss my student’s counseling sessions?
In general we discourage parents from inquiring about their student’s counseling sessions due to the confidential nature. We are often able to help your student better if they know they have a safe place to discuss sensitive matters. If your student feels the need to allow you to speak with us regarding their sessions, they can sign a release of information form. A FERPA form is not the same as a release of information, so please be aware of this.
I am seriously worried about my student and think they may harm themselves or someone else. What can I do?
If you believe your student is in imminent danger of harming themselves or others, we recommend that you contact the counseling center on the campus where your student attends. If you are unable to reach someone at the counseling center, contact the police department at the campus where your student attends.