Many parents are aware of their college student's vulnerabilities, especially when there has been previous experiences with depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. However, parents are often caught by surprise when the highly stressful life transition of starting college triggers new and old unhealthy moods and behaviors.
To be sure, physical distance poses challenges on keeping track of your child's mental health, but it's crucial for parents to find ways to observe changes in their child's attitude and behavior.
With proper planning and open communication, your student will be aware of the mental health resources available at college should he/she need them. And the fact is, the most important resource is you.
Studies show parents can exert an enormous amount of positive influence on their children. A study by The Jed Foundation reveals where students report they would turn for help:
- 76% of students say they would turn to friends
- 63% of students say they would turn to parents
If you invest the time now to talk to your child about his or her hopes for college and the future, chances are, they'll confide in you about struggles they may experience later on. Together, you can deepen your child's resiliency and coping mechanisms, and enhance your own family's ability to navigate life's complex transitions.
You Need to Know
Emotional health is a critical part of the college transition that should not be overlooked. Emotional issues are cited as a leading reason students struggle during college. Students who have skills in managing stress and taking care of their overall wellness will be better able to handle the challenges of college. Even with physical distance, parents have enormous influence on their children's behavior, decisions, and welfare. If you notice signs of a larger problem, educate yourself on the issues and the signs of emotional distress. If your child has a problem, address it quickly and properly. If you are the parent of a student with a diagnosed mental health condition, it is vital to have an action plan and remain vigilant so that your child can have a successful college experience.
The following websites have valuable information for you and your child on health and success in college:
- USF Student Success Families & Friends Resources
- USF Office of Parent and Family Engagement Resources
- USF Office of Parent and Family Programs - Partnering for your Student's Success
- USF Student Outreach & Support
- Student Success Emergency & Safety Contacts for Assistance
In addition to the services offered by the Counseling Center, you may find assistance for your student from the following:
Tampa campus Resources:
- Crisis Center of Tampa Bay: operate a 365/24/7 help-line and on-line database of Tampa Bay resources
- Gracepoint: provides 365/24/7 mental health care screenings for adults and children in mental health crisis
If you are looking for mental health services off campus, you may want to contact your insurance company for referrals and/or call the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and speak with a resource specialist at (813) 234-1234.