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As a parent/caregiver, you will often hear directly about how your student is adjusting to college and the many academic, social, and lifestyle changes in their lives. You may also infer how they are doing based on their behavior and/or attitude. It can be good to ask questions about your student's experiences at college.

It is okay to ask about:

  • Classes and study habits
  • Making new friends and staying in touch with old friends
  • Grief about lost/changed relationships
  • How they feel regarding a break-up
  • Test performance and grades
  • Academic areas they are interested in and majors they are considering
  • Experiences of discrimination or oppression
  • Substance use
  • Physical and mental health

After hearing information regarding some of these issues, you may become alarmed or worried about your student. If you are wondering if their experience is normal, if there is something you can do to help, or if there are services on campus that may help your student, you are welcome to call us for a consultation at (859) 257-8701.

Tips for Supporting Your Student When They Are in Distress

  • The most important way to be supportive is to listen. Be nonjudgmental and uncritical as you respond. (It is hard at times not to say "I warned you" or "I told you so" but this is rarely helpful.) Emotions are normal and students in mild distress are often helped just by being able to talk things through and feel heard.
  • Spend time with your student if possible, in person or virtually. Just being present even when there is silence is helpful.
  • Let them know that you care and that you are willing to listen. Say so directly.
  • Be encouraging and hopeful that the problem will eventually resolve and they will feel better, while also letting them know that you understand the problem is important to them (otherwise they wouldn't be in so much distress).
  • After you have taken the time to listen to your student, help them take action to feel better.
  • To help your student develop problem solving skills, ask them, “What do you think would help in this situation? What do you think you could do?” before you offer your own ideas. Unless you are concerned about your student's safety, encourage and support them in trying out their own solutions.
  • When your student is in distress, it is okay to share similar experiences or feelings but do not make yourself the focus of the conversation.
  • Reassure your student that you will respect their privacy, but avoid promising total secrecy in case you need to reveal something to keep your student safe.
  • Be clear that while you want to be helpful, there are limits to your support and expertise. Encourage them to speak to a professional when what they need is beyond what you can provide.
  • Tell your student that it is a positive sign to seek help when you need it, and that we all do so from time to time. It is a sign of maturity to know when you need help and to ask for it.
  • If you are concerned that your student may be thinking about suicide, ask directly. Say "Are you thinking about suicide?" Do not say "you aren't thinking about suicide, are you?" as this gives the impression that you do not really want to know if the answer is "yes." Asking directly about suicide does NOT increase the chances of a person attempting suicide.
  • Encourage your student to meet with a mental health clinician at TRACS (Triage, Referral, Assistance, and Crisis Support) or the Counseling Center rather than telling them they must go, unless the situation is urgent. Students may complete a TRACS referral form if they would like a mental health clinician to reach out to them or you may offer to complete the form for them.
  • Follow up and find out how your student is doing and whether things are changing.
  • When you call us for a consultation, we can talk with you about how to provide the above experiences for your student.
  • For urgent/crisis situations, tell your student that they must reach out for help by dropping into or calling TRACS or the Counseling Center or going to the local hospital emergency department (UK Good Samaritan Hospital, UK Chandler Hospital, The Ridge).

Tips for Encouraging Your Student to Go to Counseling

  • Talk directly about your concern for your student.
  • Specifically describe the behaviors and the moods that you have observed in your student that concern you.
  • State how you see these behaviors/moods having a negative effect on your student.
  • Encourage getting help to remove these negative effects.
  • Emphasize that a professional listener can be more objective than you can.
  • Emphasize that seeking help is a sign of health, strength, and maturity.
  • Emphasize that talking to a professional is confidential (i.e., you won't know what your student talks about unless your student wants to tell you).
  • Share your own positive experiences with getting help, if applicable.
  • Reveal any family history of depression or other mental health disorders.

When you call us for a consultation, we can talk with you about effective ways to encourage your student to seek help.

Once a student connects to UKCC and becomes a client of our center, we can receive information from you about them but we cannot reveal any information to you about the student, including whether or not the student has continued to receive services at UKCC. The student may waive the right to confidentiality, giving us permission to share information with you, by signing a "Release of Information" statement. Completion of a Release of Information does not waive the right for the student to make decisions regarding care.

The release form must be completed, signed, and dated. It can be completed online or printed. Printed copies may be hand-delivered, faxed to (859) 257-3319, or mailed to the Counseling Center at 635 S Limestone, 104 Mandrell Hall, Lexington, KY 40508-0651. If this form is faxed or mailed, we may require independent verification from the student that this release is authentic and should be acted upon.



Contact Info

Counseling Center

Call: 859-257-8701


  • 104 Mandrell Hall
  • 401 Multidisciplinary Science (MDS) Bldg.

TRACS (Triage, Crisis, Assistance, and Crisis Support)

Report a Concern

Call: 859-21-TRACS (859-218-7227)

Location: 3rd Floor, East Wing of the Gatton Student Center