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How to Help (Parents and Family)

How can I support my student from a distance?

Guidelines for talking with a student in distress:

  • Listen attentively and respectfully to their concerns.
  • Ask clarifying questions when needed.
  • Collaborate with the student about what actions or resources could help them.
  • Help the student recall effective methods used in the past to cope; help the student to do something constructive to take care of themselves.
  • Be willing to validate fears or reservations about seeking help.
  • Trust your insight and reactions while respecting the student’s own point of view.
  • When called for, let the student know you are worried about them. List specific behaviors or examples of why you or others are concerned.
  • If you are concerned the student may be feeling hopeless and might be thinking about ending their life, ask if they are contemplating suicide. It is important to remember that talking about suicide is a cry for help and is not to be ignored.

**This information was adapted with permission from the University of Florida’s Counseling Center.

  • If you are concerned about your student’s safety due to thoughts of suicide, visit Appalachian's Prevent Suicide (opens in a new tab) website.
  • If your student is unsure whether they have a problem, suggest the Counseling Center’s free online screenings (opens in a new tab) for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, alcohol use, bipolar disorder, and traumatic stress. These anonymous screenings can provide feedback and recommendations.

If you would like more ideas on things you can say to check in with your student and offer support, we are available to consult with you. The Counseling Center does not typically contact students for you, but we do want to help you in reaching out to your student and expressing your concern. If you are concerned about your student’s safety, encourage them to utilize our emergency services or contact us on your own so that we can help you establish a planned way to offer your student support.