We at Counseling Services understand that it can be difficult at times for parents and other family members to be so far away from their student, whether far away means just down the interstate in Freeport, ME, or a 20+ hour flight away in Mumbai, India.  It can be particularly difficult when your student is struggling emotionally and all you want to do is be there to comfort and support them.  This is normal and we have heard these feelings expressed many times by parents over the years.  While we understand and appreciate these feelings, the goal is for us to work together to facilitate your student seeking the help and support they need on campus.


First and foremost, it is important for concerned others to be honest and direct about their concerns. A common worry is that talking about difficult topics might “plant a seed” and should be avoided. We find that If you are noticing signs that your student is struggling, it is best to communicate what you are observing right away. Start the conversation around the importance of addressing the concerns before they become more entrenched and difficult to manage.  Early intervention improves outcomes and helps to limit the impact on a student’s academic performance and overall health.


Some warning signs include: significant changes in mood, social withdrawal, inability to sleep, unmanageable stress and anxiety, negative and self-defeating language, hopeless comments, significant drop in academic performance, repeatedly missing classes and assignments, and abusing substances (including legal and/or campus conduct issues related to use).


When addressing your concerns and encouraging help seeking, you may be met with some resistance, and that is okay.  The important thing is to communicate your concerns and encourage help seeking behavior.  It may take some prodding over a couple of conversations, so don’t get discouraged or frustrated if things don’t go well from the start.  Do your best to strike the right balance between pushing too hard and not hard enough.  If you feel stuck and uncertain how to proceed, call our office to consult at 207-859-4490, or email us at counseling@colby.edu.  We are here to help you think through these situations and come up with a plan for moving forward.  Another helpful resource is your student’s Advising Dean.  If you don’t already know who their Advising Dean is, or how to contact them, you can call the Dean’s office at 207-859-4250.


Finally, it is important to let your student know that our services are free and confidential and frequently used by other Colby students.  Do your best to normalize counseling as a way for them to take charge of solving their problems with the help of an experienced and trained professional who specializes in working with college students.  Making an appointment is easy.  Just have them call 207-859-4490, or stop by our office in Garrison-Foster 205 during regular business hours to schedule.  It is also important to note that if a mental health emergency arises, we have a counselor on call 24/7 while school is in session and they can be reached by calling Campus Security at 207-859-5911.  For more information about our office and services, please visit our webpage at www.colby.edu/counselingservices.