Info for Parents

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children
– one is roots and the other is wings” — Hodding Carter

A lot is expected of college students. In addition to adjusting to the rigors of academics they must make a whole new life for themselves in a place that most likely feels quite foreign in the beginning. Most of the time encouragement and reassurance from family and friends is the best remedy for helping them through the tough spots. However, sometimes additional support might be needed.

That is where we can be helpful. Counselors at the Counseling Services Office are available to assist your sons and daughters in sorting through some of the tougher challenges they may face at college. Counseling for personal concerns and alcohol or other drug use is available to all day students free of charge and is provided by licensed and certified professionals who understand the special needs of college students. 

Counselors are always available to consult with you about concerns that you may have regarding your son’s or daughter’s adjustment to college. Please feel free to contact us at 215.951.2868 if you have any questions.

As a parent you may be the one of the first to see signs that your son or daughter is struggling emotionally in some way. Here are some practical tips to assist you in helping your son or daughter

What to Look For 

Marked changes in behavior

  • Marked decrease in academic performance and/or preparation
  • Missing classes, work or appointments
  • Withdrawal from family or friends
  • Loss of interest in activities, people or things once enjoyed
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia, or sleeping too much)
  • Eating disturbances (decreased or increased appetite with changes in weight)
  • Conversations that do not make sense 

Marked changes in mood or appearance

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “numb” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Increased irritability or hostility
  • Excessively anxious especially in social situations
  • Marked decline in personal hygiene
  • Physical complaints that do not respond to medical treatment

References to Suicide

  • Expressed thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Expressed thoughts of hopelessness, or helplessness
  • Wondering if the world would be better off without them
  • Isolation from family or friends
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • ALWAYS take these kinds of talk or actions seriously

What You Can Do


  • Accept you’re your son’s or daughter’s thoughts and feelings without judgment
  • Let your son or daughter do most of the talking
  • Communicate your understanding by repeating back the essence of what your son or daughter has shared with you
  • Offer advice if requested. Avoid lecturing or making too many suggestions

Give Hope

  • Assure your daughter or son that things will get better
  • Help them to understand that there are options and resources available to help
  • Remind her/him that the door to home is always open
  • Remind her/him that solving big problems take time. Be patient

Provide Support and Encouragement

  • Remind your son or daughter of your trust and confidence in her/him as a person
  • Remind her/him that you are available whenever he/she needs to talk
  • Encourage him/her to use support services on campus sooner rather than later
  • Consult with Counseling Services staff about your concerns and talk about ways to help (call 215.951.2868)

The Counseling Suggestions

  • Reinforce that you are speaking out of concern and do not feel that your son or daughter has done anything wrong
  • Suggest your son or daughter call Counseling Services as soon as possible to schedule an appointment 215.951.2868 or come to the Drop-In Hour (1-2pm weekdays)
  • Meet resistance with acceptance; suggest that counseling is an option that is always available
  • Follow-up with your son or daughter even if he/she does not follow through with your suggestion


We know that you agree that it is important for students to feel no hesitation to ask for help. Over many years of working with students we have found that assurance of confidentiality is vital to them. Counseling Services at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) provides confidential mental health services in accordance with state and federal law and professional ethical standards. Once a student becomes a client, counselors may not discuss her/his situation or even acknowledge that fact that counseling is being provided without the written consent of the student. Confidentiality will only be broken in life threatening situations. 

Open communication about your son’s or daughter’s emotional and psychological well-being is something that you will need to work out together. Honor your desire to respect her/his independence and continue to provide loving and tangible support when it is needed. Strategize together about how s/he can seek your support in a difficult time without worrying about upsetting or alienating you.

The limits of confidentiality notwithstanding, that staff of Counseling Services can always listen to your concerns. Do not hesitate to contact us to discuss concerns that you might have and explore possible courses of action. 

Additional Resources


Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money: The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years.
Helen E. Johnson & Christine Shelhas-Miller

Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Today’s College Experience
Karen Levin Coburn & Madge Lawrence Treeger

When Kids Go To College: A Parent’s Guide to Changing Relationships.
Barbara M. Newman & Philip R. Newman

College of the Overwhelmed:The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It.
Richard M. Kadison, M.D. & Theresa Foy DiGernimo


Jed Foundation


Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention: The Parent Connection

Parents Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

College Parents of America

Questions? Contact Counseling Services