T-Bird Parents: Support Your Student's Mental Health for College

Posted: September 06, 2022 | Author: Kenzie Lundberg | Read Time: 7 minutes

How to support your college student's mental healthAs a parent of a college student, knowing how to talk about mental health with your student and what resources for mental health are available in college can help you support your student’s mental health and prepare them for a healthy college experience.

College can be hard. Learning to live on your own, making new friends, navigating a new environment, and developing many new skills can cause a lot of stress to new students. It is completely normal for students to struggle and experience some anxiety during these different phases of college life.

However, that doesn’t mean they need to struggle alone. And if you think they could use more help than you can give, reach out to Southern Utah University’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). The experienced and licensed mental health professionals at CAPS work with students to reduce the interference of everyday stress and all regular services are free to SUU students.
If your student struggles with their mental health, read on to make sure you are aware of what SUU and the Cedar City area can (and cannot) provide for your student.

Student’s Mental Health in College

Mental wellness has been a significant issue among college students for many years, and challenges have only increased during recent extraordinary times. Recent studies show that student mental health is declining and students are experiencing more anxiety, loneliness, and depression. In 2021, 41% of students surveyed struggled with symptoms of depression, 34% had anxiety, and about two-thirds of students felt isolated, left out, or that they were lacking companionship.

Maintaining student mental health is one of the biggest challenges universities face today.

Preparing Your Student’s Mental Health for College

One of the best skills to help college students be more successful is to develop emotional preparedness. Being emotionally prepared for college life and beyond can be summarized in the four following areas:

  • The ability to take care of oneself
  • The ability to create and maintain healthy relationships
  • The ability to understand and manage challenging or uncomfortable feelings and behaviors
  • The ability to adapt to new situations and environments

As your student adjusts to the freedom that comes with being in college, they may experience some identity crisis, homesickness, or loneliness. While it might be hard, encourage them to stay in Cedar City over the weekend and to get involved, especially for the first six weeks of their freshman semester. For most students, going home on the weekends makes it harder for them to get connected.

How to Talk About Mental Health With Your Student

It is normal for students to experience ups and downs throughout college and talking to your student can help them adapt to their new home and the challenges associated with starting college. Talking about mental health can be challenging, and it's likely to be a tough conversation for your student (or you) to start.

Here are a few tips for conversations on mental health:

  • Listen carefully to what your student has to say and let them speak without interruption
  • Some things they have to say might be hard to hear, but avoid being judgmental or overreacting
  • Make yourself available to your student and take this time seriously
  • Let your student know that you are here for them and they are not alone
  • Remember that you may not have all the answers, but you are here to help them

Keep in mind that your student may start the conversation with a text if talking face-to-face is too intimidating. They are likely to be nervous and have thought through the scenario many times; the best thing you can do for them is to be supportive and listen, no matter what form the conversation takes.

Basic Mental Health Practices for College Students

There are many ways for students to strengthen their mental and emotional health, often in the comfort of their own space. SUU’s Counseling and Psychological Services offers customized tools to assist students in learning and practicing habits for mental wellness. From academics to homesickness, substances, sleep, grief, and more, they provide resources to help students manage a variety of difficult feelings and situations.

Here are a few practices to help your student maintain their mental health in college:

Mental Health Resources for College Students at SUU

SUU’s faculty and staff are committed to providing the best experience possible for your student. In addition to the services provided below, faculty and staff members are here to support your student every step of the way and want to see them succeed just as much as you do. To learn more about the many mental health resources at SUU, visit www.suu.edu/mentalhealth

Counseling and Psychological Services

For many students, counseling enhances the university experience. Meeting with a counselor is an opportunity to explore expectations and concerns and determine possible courses of action or resolution.

If your student needs help, the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is here and their services are free to SUU students. CAPS is staffed with experienced licensed mental health professionals including psychologists, social workers, and mental health counselors.

Due to the high volume of requests for counseling services it may take some time for your student to book an appointment. In the meantime, CAPS suggests the following resources for your student:

  • Let's Talk: these 10-15 minute drop-in consultations are free for SUU students and no appointment is necessary.
  • Therapy or support groups: group is a very powerful and effective way to bring about meaningful change and to get support.
  • Mental Health Toolkit: a set of customized tools and links to support your student as they learn and practice habits of mental wellness.
  • Mental Health Support Peers: these students are skill and tool-trained seniors working under the leadership of the clinical staff at SUU CAPS.


SUU has teamed up with TimelyMD to offer students a 24/7 virtual extension of campus counseling. Students can select from a wide-ranging menu of options at no cost:

  • On-demand mental health support (TalkNow)
  • Appointment-based mental health counseling
  • Psychiatric support
  • Health coaching
  • Digital self-care content

Health and Wellness Center

SUU’s Health and Wellness Center strives to promote the physical and emotional well-being of students through programming, events, peer education, and sharing of accurate health information and resources. The center provides stress management support for SUU students, including biofeedback, a computer program designed to help students gain control over their varying stress levels using mental health exercises.

Mental Health Support Peers

SUU’s Mental Health Support Peers are skill and tool-trained senior students that work under the leadership of the clinical staff at SUU CAPS. These peers work alongside students experiencing mental health challenges and support them through group and individual outreach. SUU CAPS Mental Health Support Peers also refer students to campus and community wellness resources and lead and deliver outreach education on student mental wellness.

Dean of Students Office

The Dean of Students Office provides non-clinical case management services to assist students who are navigating the many mental health resources on campus. They can help your student identify the resources they need and continue to provide support while your student is engaging in care. They assist students when life circumstances are a significant barrier to their success, including mental health challenges.

Teach Your Students to Ask For Help

Remember that while building strong mental and emotional wellness practices is a great foundation, sometimes students need more help. Mental health is not one-size-fits-all, everyone’s experience is going to be different because no one has the same life experiences. It’s important to reach out to trained professionals when seeking a diagnosis and to know what you hope to gain.

Encourage your students to ask for help when they need it and to tell trusted friends and/or family members how they are feeling. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. When they are needed, SUU’s mental health resources and organizations are here to help and support students throughout their educational journey.

Parent and Family Services at SUU

You are sure to have many questions as your student prepares for school, and SUU’s Parent and Family Services is here to help welcome you to the T-Bird family. They know families can be the best advocates for their students, so they keep families informed and connected to campus throughout the school year. If you are concerned about your student’s mental health or any other topic, reach out.

Tags: CAPS Parents

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