The following information was adapted from the Arizona State University Department of Counseling and Consultation.
Researchers have found that close relationships and open communication with parents can help a student to adjust to college life, make effective career and relationship choices, and develop self-confidence and a sense of personal autonomy. As a parent, you know your son or daughter better than anyone else. It is likely that you may notice changes in mood or behavior that may be an early indication of emotional or psychological distress. Students tend to turn to their parents when making important decisions, and a parent's suggestion may help a student make the decision to seek counseling.
How Can Parents Help?
- Know the signs that may indicate psychological or emotional distress
- Learn how to respond effectively
- Learn about campus resources.
Signs of Troubled Students
- Changes in academic performance: motivation, grades, or class attendance
- Changes in relationships: death of a family member or close friend; difficulties in romantic relationships; or conflict in close relationships
- Persistent sad mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities
- Change in appetite or weight
- Change in sleep pattern
- Restlessness or decreased activity
- Loss of energy/feeling tired all the time
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Increased physical complaints
- References to suicide: direct statements about suicide; statements about hopelessness or helplessness; or pessimism about the future.
How Parents May Respond
- Speak to your son or daughter when you notice something unusual; don't ignore disturbing behavior
- Communicate directly in a caring manner describing the behaviors that are cause for concern
- Use "I" language that focuses on what you notice or what you feel
- Avoid being critical or judgmental
- Don't bring up concerns in the midst of an argument
- Be willing to listen to what your son or daughter has to say
- Ask directly how you can best be of help
- Encourage responsibility by helping your son or daughter to define the problem and identify possible solutions
- Recommend counseling as an objective, outside resource. Counseling services are available for University of Maryland students at the Counseling Center and Health Center.
The following university resources are especially helpful for students:
- Consult the Counseling Center in Shoemaker Hall by phone at (301) 314-7651. They are open from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday. Counselors are on call for emergencies during the weekend hours.
- Make an appointment with the Mental Health Service in the University Health Center by phone at (301) 314-8106. The Mental Health Service is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. A 24-hour nurse line is available at (301) 314-9386.
- Maryland residents can contact the Center for Healthy Families in the School of Public Health at (301) 405-3659 or (301) 405-2273.
- Seek counsel from the University Chaplains in the Memorial Chapel, (301) 405-8448 or (301) 405-8450.
- Get assistance from Resident Life staff. Students can contact their resident assistant, the RA on duty or your community office, (301) 314-7343.
For more details about the university’s array of health services, visit the Health Center website.