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Preparing for the end of the semester can be very overwhelming for students, especially with the potential stressors of traveling for holidays, moving, studying for finals, and more. During these times of higher stress, it’s important to know how to best support your student’s mental health and well-being, in person or from afar.
On campus, the Student Well-Being department offers counseling services (with the average wait time for a counseling screening being 0-2 days), group counseling, wellness consultations, and peer-led support groups for students. All of these services are free and confidential. The Care Management department can help students get connected to resources and services if they don’t know where to go and can help with financial or academic concerns as well.
Outside of campus services, there are ways you can support your student at home. One of the best ways is to ask directly if they are having mental health concerns and to show you care, as this will open that line of communication so they know they can go to you when they need help. Here are some tips, as this can be a difficult and new topic for many of us.
We recommend being prepared in the event that concerns arise, such as being able to recognize warning signs of mental health concerns and warning signs of suicidal thoughts/ideation, and resources like the Crisis Text Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, both of which are free, confidential, available 24/7, and can be used for minor or major concerns.
For example, you could ask “Are you considering suicide?” or “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”; if yes, ask further questions to understand the urgency of the situation such as if they have any plans already made or access to lethal means. DO NOT ask, “You’re not thinking about suicide, are you?” or something vague like, “Are you planning on hurting yourself?”. This can lead to misunderstandings and missed warning signs.
While it can be difficult to have these conversations or to know how to help, being a supportive person for your student is what matters most. With the knowledge and resources to help, we can all help prevent, intervene, and get help for suicidal ideation and other mental health concerns.
Laura Woods-Buchanan (she/her)
Health Communications Specialist, Student Well-Being
Parent & Family Relations
Norwood 107• 320 W. 12 Street / firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 573-341-4209 • Website: http://parents.mst.edu/