How Can Parents be Involved in Their Student’s Mental Health?

Insight from a Current EWU Student

March 15, 2023

When your child is away from home for college, you as a parent often don’t know what they are going through on a daily basis. Most college students face mental health issues at some point in the collegiate career. It can be caused by homesickness, too much stress with school and work, or other contributing factors. Adapting to a new environment can cause stress and anxiety, as well. So, how can you as a parent be part of your child’s mental health journey? 

Here are some steps you can take:  

  1. Answer the Phone– If you can, answer when they call. One of the worst feelings as a college freshman is feeling upset and lonely and not having anyone to talk to. If you are busy, simply text and tell them when you can call them back. This at least reassures them that they can talk to you soon. 
  2. Listen Patiently– Take a minute and really listen to what your child is saying. Sometimes just having someone listen to us is so helpful. When someone is listening, it builds trust and it shows that you care about them.  
  3. EmpathizeTry to remember what you were like at your student’s age. Were you afraid? Overwhelmed? Stressed? Imagine what they are going through and try to talk them through it. Make sure your student understands that you will be there for them when they need to talk. It can ensure them that they can talk to you about anything. 
  4. Send them a care package- Care packages can be fun and they’ll brighten their day. With snacks or treat; they can share them with friends. Examples of what to put in a care package:​​​​​ 
    • Food and snacks 
    • Water bottles 
    • Slippers 
    • Books on stress reliever 
    • Skincare items 
    • Pajamas 
    • Toiletries 
    • Cash 
    • A Letter 
  5. Plan a weekend to visit them- You can offer to take them out for coffee or take them shopping for any items they might need. This allows you to spend time with them not over the phone but in person. It is also their chance to talk to you face-to-face about any struggles or frustrations they have. A visit from you is also a great way for your student to take a break and get off campus for a few days and get some much-needed family time.