Resources for Parents & Families

Advice on Assisting Students

College can be an exciting and fulfilling time of life, but it can also present many challenges that can overwhelm a student's current ability to cope. As a parent or family member at times, it can be hard to know whether to actively intervene to help resolve issues for your student or whether to stand back and allow the student to handle things independently. "Getting the balance" can be difficult especially when you watch your student struggle with emotional issues and academic difficulties. You may wonder how you can help or what to do if your student is floundering or struggling. The following links might be helpful if you are concerned about how your student is specifically dealing with homesickness, depression, an eating disorder, a relationship breakup, or sexual assault.

It might comfort you to know that Counseling Services at Penn State Brandywine provides staff with experience specific to working with college students. We can help you and your son/daughter clarify whether what he/she is experiencing is healthy and normal or represents a concern that could benefit from or require professional treatment.

Clearly, if a student is imminently suicidal or endangering their life, immediate action is indicated (please see our crisis information if this applies to you). However, there are often "gray areas" where professional services might be helpful but your student wants to handle things on their own. Because college students are considered adults, legally there are limitations to how much you or we can help if your student is unwilling to schedule an initial consultation. At those times you may want to use the leverage of your concern and your relationship to encourage your student to seek help.

Here is some helpful information about Counseling Services:

  • We provide a range of services that typically begin with a triage appointment. 
  • A counselor can help you figure out how to talk with your student about your concerns for them and, when indicated, encourage scheduling an appointment at Counseling Services.
  • Students are legally considered adults. Therefore, we request that the student schedule their own appointments.
  • While we can talk with you about your concern for your student, due to ethical and legal requirements for confidentiality we would only be able to share specific information about your student's attendance at sessions, issues or treatment recommendations if they have signed a written release allowing us to do so.
  • If you are concerned about a mental health emergency after business hours, you or your student should call 911 or visit your nearest Emergency Room.
  • Since Counseling Services provides short-term individual services only, we often will refer students with ongoing or chronic conditions to services within the community. You can help your student by informing them of insurance coverage or helping them to access that information.
  • If you would like assistance with locating a private practitioner in the local community, Counseling Services is pleased to assist with referral services. 
  • Counseling Services can also suggest other resources on campus and in the greater Penn State University community that may be helpful.

For more information about what your student can expect at Penn State Brandywine Counseling Services, we encourage you to read more about us, our services, and our staff and to contact us by phone at 610-892-1270.