Information for Parents and Family
The college years and academia experience are an exciting and powerful time-for both students and their families. Similarly, this time of transition and growth can be challenging for all persons involved. For most students, families continue to play an important role in their lives. It is our hope that the information below will assist you as you help your student navigate the challenges that may arise during their time at Moravian University.
Helping your student in distress
Recognize the signs of distress
- Marked changes in behavior
- decrease in academic performance; missed classes, appointments or responsibilities; withdrawal from family or friends; loss of interest in activities, people or things once enjoyed; sleep disturbances; or eating disturbances
- Marked changes in mood or appearance
- persistent sad, anxious, or "numb" mood; feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or helplessness; increased irritability or hostility, excessively anxious, marked decline in personal hygiene; or physical complaints that do not respond to medical treatment
- References to suicide
- References to suicide
- expressed thoughts to suicide or self-harm; wondering if the world would be better without them, isolation from family and friends; or giving away prized possessions
- IF IN CRISIS: If you believe your student is an immediate threat to themselves or others, please contact campus police (610-861-1421). Campus Police and other crisis teams on campus can help to assess your student, understand the situation, and take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of your student and the Moravian community.
- For more information on managing suicidal crisis please see the Suicide Prevention Resource Center: What Families Need to Know
- References to suicide
Have a conversation
If you are concerned about your student the first step is to reach out to them and ask how they are doing. Talk to you student as soon as you notice something unusual, do not ignore atypical or disturbing behaviors. Approach this conversation with curiosity and caring rather than anger or judgement.
- accept your student's thoughts and feelings without judgement
- let your student do most of the talking
- communicate to them that you understand what they are saying
- offer advice if asked, avoid lectures or making too many suggestions
- Give hope
- help them to understand that options and resources are available to help
- remind them you are always there for them
- remind them that solving big problems can take time and encourage patience
Encourage your student to get support
Often students are hesitant to seek out counseling, and your encouragement can facilitate them getting the services they need. Meet their resistance with acceptance and continue to suggest that counseling is an always option that is available.
The Moravian University Counseling Center is a free and confidential resource for your full-time undergraduate or graduate student. We are committed to supporting and empowering your students to develop their potential, improve their mental health, and define and pursue their academic and personal goals. Students can easily schedule an appointment by emailing or completing the appointment request form that is on our website.
Assurance of confidentiality is one of the conditions that makes counseling and therapy effective. The Counseling Center is prohibited by ethical standards and laws that govern our profession from disclosing anything about any student (including a student's attendance at a counseling session) who is 18 years of age or older without his or her permission. The only exception to this is if the counselor believes there is imminent danger to self or others. In this situation, safety precautions prevail and only enough information to ensure safety is released.
If you know that your student has seen one of our counselors and believe it is important for you to speak with the counselor, please tell your student of your concerns, and ask the student to sign a release of information form available at the counseling center, which then allows us to speak with you directly about your student. If you have general questions or comments about how to best support your student you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Navigating the College Years
Tips on supporting your student from a distance
- Consider how you can support and encourage without trying to control. If your student presents a problem to you, find ways to support them while not taking away their opportunity to learn to navigate adult tasks and decisions.
- Be an active listener. Ask clarifying questions and reflective statements. Try to see situations from your student's perspective.
- Make sure to check in about their lives, not just their grades. How are they enjoying their living situation and extracurricular activities? How are they feeling socially? Try to be curious without being intrusive.
- Consider what qualities will make it more likely that you will be the person they will come to if they are struggling or get into trouble. A few that come to mind are patience, caring, unconditional love, and an ability to contain immediate emotional reactions. For some students, college is a time of identity exploration and transition. Pay attention to who your student is becoming and foster open lines of communication to discuss these changes, if they wish.
- Listen for opportunities to encourage your student to attend to their physical, emotional, and mental health.
- Maintain contact with your student on a regular basis. Even if it is a text every few days, it is important for them to know that you are there to listen and provide support when needed. While your students desire for contact with you may vary from week to week, if you establish a good foundation, they will come back to you when they are ready.
- Encourage your student to resolve conflict on their own and act more of a guide or consultant. This is a time in their lives they need to feel supported and empowered to be an adult.
- Talk openly about money management and academic goals. Make sure both of you and your student are on the same page.
- Remember that even extremely bright and motivated students can struggle at times.
- Be a good role model by taking care of yourself and seeking out support when needed.