Advice on Assisting Students
College can be an exciting and fulfilling time of life but it can also present many challenges that can overwhelm a student's current ability to cope. As a parent or family member at times it can be hard to know whether to actively intervene to help resolve issues for your student or whether to stand back and allow the student to handle things independently. "Getting the balance" can be difficult especially when you watch your student struggle with emotional issues and academic difficulties. You may wonder how you can help or what to do if your student is floundering or struggling. The following links might be helpful if you are concerned about how your student is specifically dealing with homesickness, depression, an eating disorder, a relationship breakup or sexual assault. Click here for other self-help materials.
It might comfort you to know that CAPS staff are mental health professionals who have experience working with college students and can help you and your student clarify whether what your student is experiencing is healthy and normal or represents a concern that could benefit from or require professional treatment.
Clearly if a student is imminently suicidal or endangering their life, immediate action is indicated (please see our Crisis information if this applies to you). However, there are often "gray areas" where professional services might be helpful but your student wants to handle things on their own. Because college students are considered adults, legally there are limitations to how much you or we can help if your student is unwilling to schedule an appointment. At those times you may want to use the leverage of your concern and your relationship to encourage your student to seek help.
Here is some helpful information about CAPS:
- CAPS provides a range of services which typically begin with a phone screening appointment. Learn more about CAPS services.
- A CAPS counselor can help you figure out how to talk with your student about your concerns for them and, when indicated, encourage scheduling an appointment at CAPS.
- Students are legally considered adults. Therefore, CAPS requests that the student schedule their own appointments.
- While we can talk with you about your concern for your student, due to ethical and legal requirements for confidentiality we would only be able to share specific information about your student's attendance at sessions, issues or treatment recommendations if they have signed a written release allowing us to do so.
- If you are concerned about a mental health emergency after CAPS business hours, you or your student can contact the CAN HELP Line at 1-800-643-5432 or visit the Emergency Department of Mt. Nittany Medical Center just east of campus, off Park Avenue.
- Since CAPS provides short term individual services only, we often will refer students with ongoing or chronic conditions to services within the community. You can help your student by informing them of insurance coverage or helping them to access that information.
- If you would like to find, or CAPS recommends, a private practitioner in the local community, you might find our Community Provider Locator helpful.
- A CAPS counselor can suggest other resources on campus that may be helpful. For instance, if you are experiencing a death or family emergency or have been unable to reach your student and are concerned for their safety, you can contact the Office of Residence Life at (814) 863-1710, your student's Resident Assistant (who lives in the Residence Hall) or Student and Family Services at (814) 863-1260 or (814) 863-2020.
For more information about what your student can expect at CAPS, we encourage you to read more about us, our services, and our staff.