Info for Parents
There are two lasting bequests we can give our children – one is roots and the other is wings
A lot is expected of college students. In addition to adjusting to the rigors of academics, they must make a whole new life for themselves in a place that most likely feels quite foreign in the beginning. Most of the time encouragement and reassurance from family and friends is the best remedy for helping them through the tough spots. However, sometimes additional support might be needed.
That is where we can be helpful. Counselors at the Counseling Services Office are available to assist your student in sorting through some of the tougher challenges they may face at college. Counseling for personal concerns and alcohol or other drug use is available to all-day students free of charge and is provided by licensed and certified professionals who understand the special needs of college students.
Counselors are always available to consult with you about concerns that you may have regarding your student’s adjustment to college. Please feel free to contact us at 215-951-2868 if you have any questions.
As a parent, you may be one of the first to see signs that your student is struggling emotionally in some way. Here are some practical tips to assist you in helping them
What to Look For
Marked changes in behavior
- A marked decrease in academic performance and/or preparation
- Missing classes, work, or appointments
- Withdrawal from family or friends
- Loss of interest in activities, people, or things once enjoyed
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia, or sleeping too much)
- Eating disturbances (decreased or increased appetite with changes in weight)
- Conversations that do not make sense
Marked changes in mood or appearance
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “numb” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Increased irritability or hostility
- Excessively anxious especially in social situations
- Marked decline in personal hygiene
- Physical complaints that do not respond to medical treatment
References to suicide
- Expressed thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- Expressed thoughts of hopelessness, or helplessness
- Wondering if the world would be better off without them
- Isolation from family or friends
- Giving away prized possessions
- ALWAYS take these kinds of talk or actions seriously
What You Can Do
- Accept your student’s thoughts and feelings without judgment
- Let your student do most of the talking
- Communicate your understanding by repeating back the essence of what your student has shared with you
- Offer advice if requested. Avoid lecturing or making too many suggestions
- Assure your student that things will get better
- Help them to understand that there are options and resources available to help
- Remind them that the door to home is always open
- Remind them that solving big problems takes time. Be patient
Provide support & encouragement
- Remind your student of your trust and confidence in them as a person
- Remind them that you are available whenever they need to talk
- Encourage them to use support services on campus sooner rather than later
- Consult with Counseling Services staff about your concerns and talk about ways to help - call 215-951-2868
The counseling suggestions
- Reinforce that you are speaking out of concern and do not feel that your student has done anything wrong
- Suggest your student call Counseling Services as soon as possible to schedule an appointment at 215-951-2868
- Meet resistance with acceptance; suggest that counseling is an option that is always available
- Follow-up with your student even if they do not follow through with your suggestion
We know that you agree that it is important for students to feel no hesitation to ask for help. Over many years of working with students, we have found that assurance of confidentiality is vital to them. Counseling Services at Thomas Jefferson University provide confidential mental health services in accordance with state and federal law and professional ethical standards. Once a student becomes a client, counselors may not discuss her/his situation or even acknowledge the fact that counseling is being provided without the written consent of the student. Confidentiality will only be broken in life-threatening situations.
Open communication about your son’s or daughter’s emotional and psychological well-being is something that you will need to work out together. Honor your desire to respect her/his independence and continue to provide loving and tangible support when it is needed. Strategize together about how s/he can seek your support in a difficult time without worrying about upsetting or alienating you.
The limits of confidentiality notwithstanding, the staff of Counseling Services can always listen to your concerns. Do not hesitate to contact us to discuss concerns that you might have and explore possible courses of action.
- Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money: The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years.
Helen E. Johnson & Christine Shelhas-Miller
- Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Today’s College Experience
Karen Levin Coburn & Madge Lawrence Treeger
- When Kids Go To College: A Parent’s Guide to Changing Relationships.
Barbara M. Newman & Philip R. Newman
- College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It.
Richard M. Kadison, M.D. & Theresa Foy DiGernimo
- Jed Foundation
- Opioid and Other Substance Misuse Prevention
- Parents Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
- College Parents of America