For Parents & Loved Ones
College can be a positive and exciting time for students, however, with many new experiences and a host of responsibilities it can become overwhelming. It is normal for students to experience anxiety as they make adjustments to college life and the many changes they are experiencing. Parents and loved ones may look to the University Counseling Center staff to assist their student with difficulties.
Our goal is to provide you with information and support that might assist you in helping your GVSU student who may need mental health services or support.
When is Counseling Appropriate for my student?
Students seek counseling for many reasons but concerns could include:
- Loneliness and adjustment issues
- Concerns about career choice and/or academic performance
- Family stress such as a family loss, divorce, or alcoholism
- Emotional difficulties such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse concerns, self-esteem, or suicidal feelings
- Interpersonal conflict or isolation
Connecting with the UCC:
- Our counselors are available to you for consultation by calling our office at (616) 331-3266 and asking to speak with a counselor about your student. We will offer resources and suggestions to help a student obtain mental health support or treatment. This may include exploring whether the University Counseling Center or other Grand Rapids community services are the best fit to meet a student’s needs.
How does a student make an appointment at UCC?:
- Students are directed to personally schedule all appointments.
- Students schedule the first-time screening appointment by contacting the University Counseling Center at (616) 331-3266. First-time screening appointments are designed to be quick access and are typically scheduled within 48-hours. Learn more about our first-time appointments.
- The UCC does not call students to initiate care; Students must voluntarily request services. In our experience, students are uncomfortable and anxious receiving an unsolicited call from an unknown counselor.
- If the student is unable or unwilling to contact the UCC and you remain concerned, complete a CARE Report for non-emergency support. The GVSU CARE team will reach out to the student, most often by email, and invite the student to talk about different types of supports, including UCC services.
- If you feel this is an emergency, please call the GVSU Police Department at (616) 331-3255 or 911 for assistance.
Assisting your student with finding a community provider:
- Sometimes it is more beneficial for a student to seek a provider outside of the UCC. The UCC will assist with community referral options when the student requests to be seen frequently (e.g., weekly) or when a student’s mental health treatment needs are outside of the Center’s short-term scope of practice.
- We have compiled a list of community providers in the West Michigan area who are interested in working with GVSU students. We will also provide information on how to find providers in areas beyond West Michigan as needed.
Self-Help Resources for your student: We have compiled a list of common concerns that might come up during your student's time at GVSU. See our self-help directory so that you may refer your student to it.
Online Mental Health Screening for your student: The University Counseling Center offers access to Online Screening Tools. Please Note: These tests are meant to be indicators only and do not replace a full assessment by a qualified clinician.
Mental Health Outreach and Events: Your student may attend a number of mental health-focused outreach events, including national mental health screening days. Urge your student to get involved by visiting our events calendar.
Frequently Asked Questions by Parents and Loved Ones
Talking to your College Student
Take some time to start a conversation about mental health. This can be tough for families as often in our society, mental health isn’t discussed openly like physical health. Feelings of depression or anxiety are often hidden because people are confused, embarrassed, or ashamed. You can help protect your student and their friends by talking to them.
- Ask open-ended questions. Let your student steer the conversation to what they want to talk about.
- Don’t rush to solve their problems. Instead, ask what they think would help a situation.
- Be available and make sure your student knows it. “I'm around if you want to talk later” may help.
- Try talking when doing an activity together, such as on a walk. The relaxed atmosphere makes it easier for some to open up.
How to help your college student save a life
How would you respond if your student told you their friend might be thinking about suicide?
Share ACT (Acknowledge, Care, Tell) with your student so they are prepared to get help for themselves or a friend.
- Acknowledge any concerns they may have about their own emotions or a friend’s reactions.
- Care: Show them how much you care by listening and taking their concerns seriously.
- Tell: Make yourself available as a safe person they can tell about big problems.