Chicago — Though college-aged students today have higher rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders, their parents can play a significant role to help them.
Here are some tips that parents can use to help their students transition.
Set up counseling sessions now
Despite the best efforts of college counselors, not all students will benefit from them.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the need for college mental health services as students grappled with the social and economic consequences of closed campuses, online learning, and the illness or death of family members. Most institutions are now relying on telehealth mental health services to help students, whether they are on or off campus, as they return to normal operations.
Despite schools best efforts, these services may not be the best option for some students. Staying intune with your student and setting up services with private counseling may be what’s best.
Allow them to vent without you responding
According to Larry Marks, a certified psychologist at the University of Central Florida, students "usually crave reassurance from and connection to their families" despite maintaining they don't care what their parents think.
His advice is to "see yourself as a coach or consultant." To be supportive, you need to have a positive outlook on life and the ability to assist children make decisions and solve their own problems.”
Make standing appointments for phone calls
According to clinical psychologist Aesha L. Uqdah, the director of the counseling center at the University of Louisville, "In order to set expectations for how often you and your child will communicate while at college, it is vital to explore these issues."
When you're away from each other, you could say something like, 'How often should we talk?'" Uqdah said.
Share lessons learned from your college experience
Keep in mind the transitionary period that marks early college years, counselors recommend.
Students spend more time outside the classroom than they do in the classroom at college. Identity, conflict, personal development and creating relationships are all part of the college experience, which is an educational concept unto itself.
Encourage them to speak up for themselves
Though most students voluntarily seek out college counseling, others may feel embarrassed or too equipped. See if their school has a confidential drop-in service, if they are embarrassed to seek help for problems they have.
Offer sideline support
Many schools have offices dedicated for families to support their students. Find out how those services work and how they can help your kid.
“You can call if your child is having academic or behavioral problems and these offices have resources,” said Steve Sprinkle, a licensed psychologist and the former director of the counseling center at the University of San Diego.