Help for Parents
Helping From a Distance: What Parents Can Do
When your son or daughter is away at college, it is harder to know how well they are
doing emotionally. While it’s important to encourage their independence, they still
do need your support. Make sure you keep in touch while they are away. It’s fine to
check in by text, but be sure to speak to them on the phone or video chat once in
a while so you can get a better sense of how they are doing. You can tell a lot by
the tone of voice and direction of the conversation.
Signs a Your Child Needs Immediate Help
- Directly saying they want to die or kill themselves: “I just want to die”, “I should just kill myself”
- Saying they are a burden to others: “They’d be better off without me”
- Expressing hopelessness: “It’s never going to get better” “What’s the point of being here?” “There is no reason to live”, “I’d be better off dead”
- Indirectly talking about suicide: “I can’t take it anymore”, “I just want to sleep forever or disappear”
- Mentioning self-harming behavior or showing signs of self-injury.
If your son or daughter is in immediate danger, parents can call 911, Public Safety (973-761-9300) or the SHU 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 973-275-Help (4357) to speak with a trained mental health counselor.
What to Do When You’re Concerned About Your Child’s Mental Health
You know your child better than anyone, so if you think something isn’t right, trust your instincts. If you are concerned about them, ask questions. You may feel like you are intruding, but it’s okay to express an interest in their wellbeing. You can say something like, “When we were talking, I noticed you sounded stressed. Is there something upsetting you?” You can get more conversation tips in this guide created by NAMI and The Jed Foundation.
While some anxiety and stress is to be expected, especially in the beginning, it’s
important to watch out for warning signs that indicate that there may be a more serious
problem. When mental health issues are addressed in the early stages, it can prevent
a crisis and improve treatment outcomes.
- Changes in sleep or appetite (sleeping/eating too much or too little)
- Changes in speech (speaking faster, slower than normal or unable to carry on a conversation)
- Change in self-care (not showering or drastic changes their appearance)
- Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or depression
- Panic attacks or excessive worrying
- Confused thinking, difficulty concentrating
- Isolation from family and friends
- Poor performance at school or work
- Extreme agitation and/or anger
- Seeing or hearing things that aren't there or having strange thoughts
- Inability to cope with daily activities and responsibilities
- Substance use
- Unexplained physical ailments
- Visible scars or other signs of self-harm
- Suicidal thoughts
Counseling Services at Seton Hall
If you are concerned and believe that your son or daughter might benefit from counseling, please encourage him or her to call or come into the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office to set up an appointment. If they are not yet willing to call the office, you may call and ask to speak to one of our staff counselors for guidance on how to manage the situation .
CAPS provides short-term individual counseling, group counseling, crisis intervention,
consultation, and referral services to Seton Hall University students. Parents cannot
make appointments on behalf of students. Services obtained by our students are confidential
and information cannot be disclosed to anyone, not even parents, without written permission from the client. Our office is located on the second floor of Mooney Hall, Room 27. Our normal business
hours are Monday through Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Students may come in or call to set up an initial appointment at (973) 761-9500 during
normal business hours. If they are experiencing a psychological crisis, they may come
in during normal business hours and ask to speak with a counselor. If it is after
hours, they can contact the SHU 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 973-275-Help
Managing Existing Mental Health Conditions in College
If your son or daughter has a diagnosed mental health condition or a history of mental health challenges, it’s important to create a plan so they know where to find services, how to contact providers and know what to do in case of a crisis.
Some Questions to Ask Before Arriving on Campus:
- What mental health services are provided and how can I make an appointment?
- How do I get mental health services after hours or in a crisis?
- What types of mental health providers are available on campus?
- Can you connect me with services in the community if necessary?
- Do you have support services available? If so, what are they?
Before your child leaves for college, be sure to discuss the following:
- What to do in a crisis: Provide them with the Crisis Text Line information, 988, campus security, and their resident assistant contact information if they live in a dorm.
- What to do if they aren’t feeling well: Go over the plan you created to ensure they understand when it’s time to seek help/support.
- Insurance coverage: Be sure they have a health insurance card with them in case they need services that aren’t provided on campus.
- Medication management: Your child should be able to manage all of their medications before they leave for college. They need to know the names of medications, the dosage and how to get refills. They also need to know how to safely store their medication to prevent others from taking it. Medications should never be shared.
- Dangers of mixing medications with alcohol and substances: Alcohol and other substances interfere with many medications. Side effects can be worsened and accidental overdoses can occur. For example, alcohol suppresses breathing and so do opioids and benzodiazepines (anxiety medications like Xanax or Ativan). If taken together, a potentially fatal overdose can occur.
- Importance of getting prescription drugs from a pharmacy: If they run out of medications, do not take them from a friend. There are counterfeit versions of many commonly prescribed medications. The average person cannot tell the difference between a real and fake pill, which may contain deadly doses of fentanyl.
If a parent wants to speak with a counselor about their student, they can share information
with us but to obtain ANY information from us a voluntary release form must be signed
by the student.
Helpful Articles & Resources
- Preparing for College Emotionally, Not Just Academically: Problem-solving skills can help students keep from being overwhelmed
- Mental Health College Guide: The guide covers topics from self-care to getting mental health care support, to legal rights and self-advocacy.
- Jed Foundation: Tips for Families to manage the transition from high school to college.
- Seton Hall’s guide to finding services off-campus.