Signs Your Child May Be In Distress

The college years are an exciting time in your child’s life. It is normal for them to feel a wide range of emotions while adjusting to new experiences and expectations. It can also be a stressful time and many students find they feel overwhelmed with issues such as adjusting to college life, meeting academic requirements, family pressures, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders or more serious mental health issues.

Often children are not direct with their parents on how they are feeling or what is going on in their lives. It is important to listen and observe your child carefully and be aware of warning signs that your child may be in trouble.

Some of the signs may include

  • Decline in academic performance and quality of course work
  • Change in behavior or mood such as prolonged periods of depression, sadness, tearfulness, apathy or becoming withdrawn
  • Change in level of communication including calling home more or less frequently
  • Extreme dependency on family, including exceptionally long/distressing phone calls or visits home
  • Physical changes such as sudden weight gain or loss, change in personal hygiene
  • Nervousness, agitation, irritability, aggressiveness, non-stop talking
  • Bizarre behavior or speech
  • Talk of suicide, either directly or indirectly
  • Comments in a student’s letters or emails home that arouse concern

What You Can Do to Help

  • If your child is exhibiting warning signs that they may be having difficulty, speak to them about it. Let them know you are concerned, and that you are there to help them if they desire it.
  • Be a good listener. Often this is enough. Listen for the feelings that your child is trying to express. Let them know that you understand what they are telling you by repeating the essence of what your child has said.
  • Try and see the situation from their point of view. Even if you don’t agree or support some of their behavior, let them know you are on their side, and understand where they are coming from.
  • Let them talk. Try to keep an open mind and hear your child out before making suggestions or giving advice.
  • Be informed about the resources available to your child. Review the material on this web site, and inform them of the counseling services that are available to them.
  • Contact the Student Center for Health and Counseling for a consultation if you have questions about how best to help your child or if you are unsure about the safety of your child.
  • Keep the lines of communication open and follow-up with your child. Find out how they are doing and how they are feeling.
  • If you feel your child is in imminent danger of harming themselves or someone else call 911 (from in area) or 218-333-9111 (from out of area), or campus security at 218-755-3888.