Parent Resources | Student Health Services | SIU

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Student Health Services

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These topics are covered below:


Our Role

The role of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at SIUC is to provide mental health related services to facilitate students’ adjustment to college and their personal and psychological growth in becoming high functioning and socially responsible adults. Counseling and Psychological Services promote student learning about their emotional and psychological development and increase academic success by positively impacting academic decision-making and retention. Our staff work to help students resolve problems that interfere with personal, social, and academic functioning while also emphasizing prevention, development, adjustment, and wellness.

Counseling and Psychological Services provides short-term counseling services for a minimal fee of $6.00 to all registered students of the university. In addition, we provide crisis intervention, consultation and program development, outreach programming, and referral services to students as well as faculty and staff of the campus community. We collaborate with academic departments and other campus agencies to promote student welfare, actively promote an environment of personal safety and respect across campus, and work to enhance all students’ appreciation of diversity and individual differences. More detailed information about all the services we offer can be found on Counseling and Psychological Services Home Page.


In order to insure a safe environment for students to explore their personal concerns, all counseling services are confidential. This means that our staff will not reveal the identity of students who seek our services, will not confirm or deny a student’s participation in counseling, and will not provide any details about what has been discussed in counseling without the student’s written consent. We do not give information to parents or to other offices or departments within the university without a student’s written consent. Similarly, information about participation in counseling will not appear on a student’s academic records.

Students may request to have information shared with the person(s) of their choice and can sign a release granting us permission to share confidential counseling information

However, there are a few exceptions to the rule of confidentiality that do not require written consent for releasing counseling information. If we believe that a student is immediately and seriously dangerous to self or others, we are legally required to try to keep her/him safe and to warn anyone s/he might try to harm. The other circumstances under which we are required to break confidentiality is if we become aware of ongoing child abuse or neglect and elder abuse.

When Might Our Services Be Needed?

When Identifying Potential Student Problems

Parents, faculty, and staff often have the most direct contact with students and thus may be the first to notice any changes. In order to facilitate early identification of difficulties, listed below are some possible warning signs which may suggest that a student is in need of assistance.

  • a change in appearance (e.g., poor hygiene, weight gain/loss)
  • a drop in GPA or academic performance from the previous semester, especially for students who generally perform above average
  • increased irritability or agitation
  • consistently inappropriate, illogical, or unrelated questions
  • distracted or preoccupied thought processes
  • withdrawal from social interactions with peers, family, and significant others, frequent class absences, and expressions of loneliness
  • fearful responses, such as avoidance or apprehension about being alone
  • occurrence of a recent loss or other crisis (e.g., relationship breakup, death of a friend or family member, academic failure, physical illness, rape/sexual assault)
  • expressions of hopelessness (statements such as “there’s no use trying” or “what’s the point?”)
  • indirect statements or written essays about death or suicide (“I want to disappear,” “there’s no way out” or “I can’t go on”) as well as more direct suicidal statements (“I’ve had thoughts about hurting myself”)

The appearance of any of the above warning signs may indicate that a student is in distress. If any of these signs are observed, especially on a repeated basis within a short period of time (2 to 3 weeks), it is important to talk with your son or daughter and refer him/her to Counseling and Psychological Services for assistance.

SIU Mandated Suicide Assessment Policy

Following the example of highly successful programs at other universities, SIU has instituted a mandated assessment policy for students who attempt or threaten suicide. If Counseling and Psychological Services receives a credible report of a suicide attempt or threat by a student, we will require that student to come in for three appointments of assessment. He or she will meet with one of our counselors, and the counselor will try to help the student understand what led to the event, what they might have done differently, and how they can handle future situations more safely and effectively. This policy is not intended as a punishment for suicidal students; instead, we hope to assist them in dealing with the stresses of their lives and with their own emotions. Just talking with one of our counselors about suicidal thoughts will not make a student subject to this policy; it is intended for students who have actually threatened or attempted suicide. We are concerned about the safety of all of our students, and we are also concerned about the welfare of the university community as a whole.

When Needing Consultation with a Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Staff Member

Parents and concerned others may consult with our staff if they believe a student is in distress and they are uncertain about how to help. If you have concerns about a student’s emotional functioning or behavior, including alcohol use, depression or anxiety, aggression, unusual behavior, or overall psychological well-being, we encourage you to speak with a professional staff member from CAPS. To consult with a CAPS psychologist, call our office at 618-453-5371 and ask to speak with the counselor-on-duty. The counselor-on-duty (COD) will ask for specific information about the situation in order to help you determine how to proceed. In doing so, the COD is still required to maintain the confidentiality of any student seen at CAPS.

For more information about how to get help in cases of emergency, go to our Crisis Services page.

How to Make a Referral

Guidelines for Helpful Interactions

Once you recognize that your son or daughter is experiencing a pattern of the above symptoms, you must decide whether or not to confront him/her. If you do choose to speak with your student, the following are some guidelines for your interaction:

  • Talk to her/him in private.
  • Explain what has aroused your concerns.
  • Express your concern for her/him in a direct, straightforward manner.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Show understanding and empathy for what they are going through.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • Consider Counseling and Psychological Services as a resource and discuss a possible referral with the student. Inform them that our services are confidential.
  • Remember that the student has the right to accept, think over, or refuse your recommendations.
  • If your student resists help and you are still concerned, it may be helpful for you to consult with Counseling and Psychological Services professional staff member.
  • In a crisis, the most important things are to remain calm and to make sure your student is safe.

Steps for Making an Appointment or Referral

If your student is not in crisis, but you believe is in need of counseling services, then you would encourage him/her to contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for an appointment. Here are the steps involved in getting your student in to see a Counseling and Psychological Services staff member:

Step 1. Encourage the student to contact CAPS to schedule an intake appointment. Students may schedule appointments by calling CAPS number, 618-453-5371 or in person by going to the Student Health Center, Room 253. Students will need to fill out some paperwork and then will be given an appointment to meet with a counselor.

Step 2. After completing the intake appointment, the counselor and the student will decide what services are best suited to meet their needs. Once it is decided what service(s) is most appropriate for the student, the service is provided to assist the student in addressing the problems and concerns identified in the intake appointment.

In the case of a mental health emergency during business hours, call 618-453-5371 and let the receptionist know that you need to speak with the Counselor-on-Duty about a crisis situation. If you are concerned about a student but are uncertain about the appropriateness of a referral, feel free to call CAPS and speak with a member of our professional staff.

What to do if a Student is Reluctant to Seek Help

While it is important to care about the emotional well being of students, we cannot make their decisions for them, and counseling is always a personal choice. Nevertheless, you can assist a student who is ambivalent about seeking professional help in a number of ways.
Normalize the process of pursuing counseling.

  • Reassure the student that counseling services are appropriate for anyone needing assistance in coping with and resolving emotional and/or interpersonal concerns.
  • Let the student know that no problem is too big or too small for counseling.
  • Inform the student that he or she can make an appointment to speak to a counselor once without making a commitment to ongoing counseling.
  • Remind the student that any information shared during counseling sessions is kept strictly confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone without her/his written permission.
  • Acknowledge, validate, and discuss the student’s real fears and concerns about seeking help. Some students may feel that counseling is an admission of weakness or failure; we tell students that it takes considerable courage and integrity to face oneself, acknowledge one’s troubles or difficulties, and admit the desire or need for assistance.
  • Suggest that the student visit our web site as a way to become familiar with the services we offer.
  • Consult with us! Review the guidelines for helpful interactions provided above.

Contacting Counseling and Psychological Services 

Counseling and Psychological Services is located in the Student Health Center adjacent to the Rec Center. Our reception area is Room 253. Our phone number is 618 453-5371.
Counseling and Psychological Services hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Fridays, when classes are in session. Counseling and Psychological Services is open 8:00 to 4:30 Monday through Friday during semester breaks and the summer session.

Additional Ways for Parents to Help Students

Here are some additional ways that parents and other concerned adults can help enhance the psychological well-being of our students:

  • Become familiar with CAPS–including services, staff, resources, and programs–so that you can share information with students.
  • Visit CAPS web site for more detailed information about what we have to offer.
  • Learn about the benefits of counseling and dispute the stigma associated with seeking mental health services.
  • Encourage students to utilize resources such as Ulifeline, a web site specifically designed for preventing suicide in college students or refer them to the Self-Help Resource section of our website.
  • Think of and use CAPS as an available resource for helping your student succeed.

Information Resources for Parents

Web Resources for Parents
Several other college counseling centers have put together resources for parents; these materials are aimed at helping parents deal with their son or daughter’s transition to college. Follow the links below for more information.

SIU's New Student Orientation
Know No Bounds:  Parent Presentation 

Just for Parents
The University of Texas offers coping strategies as well as suggestions for how to help your child from a distance.

What Parents Need to Know about College Drinking
An excellent resource page on things to consider when your child is choosing a college, staying involved during your child’s freshman year, and getting assistance if your child is involved in an alcohol incident.

The Transition Year – Emotional Health at College
The Jed Foundation and the American Psychiatric Foundation partnered on an online resource aimed at helping to ensure the smooth, safe and healthy transition of teenagers from high school to college. A great resource for incoming students, freshman students, and parents.

Recommended Readings
The following books have been helpful to many parents:

The College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do about it.
This book provides an excellent overview of the various psychological and emotional stressors commonly faced by college students. The book is filled with insights and stories about the current mental health crisis on our nation’s campuses and offers a hands-on guide for helping students overcome stress and succeed in a college environment. The authors discuss the warning signs and symptoms of common problems, including depression, sleep disorders, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, impulsive behaviors, and suicide. The book is intended to familiarize parents with these issues as well as to offer strategies for how parents can help their children; there is a section specifically designed for students as well.

Almost Grown: Launching Your Child from High School to College
by Patricia Pasick

Almost Grown is a guide for parents from the final years of high school and first years of college, offering intelligent counsel not only in practical issues such as developing a college search plan or handling questions of money, sex, and substance abuse, but also in the psychological issues that arise during this family transition. Writing as both psychologist and parent, the author tackles the key question of how mothers and fathers can foster adolescents’ growth and autonomy while maintaining family connections and stability. She also explores the unexpected: the impact of the changing family on younger siblings, the benefits and frustrations of college students’ returning home, the challenges and opportunities that nontraditional families face, and more. The author also addresses another critical yet underplayed aspect of the college transition: how parents’ lives change. Almost Grown guides readers through this major step in adult development and new start to adult partnerships. Almost Grown contains advice from high school and college admissions counselors across the country and, at the heart of the book, stories of personal experience from parents and adolescents who are making, or have made, the transition.

Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Just Send Money
by Helen E. Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller

When children leave for college, many parents feel uncertain about their shifting roles. By emphasizing the importance of being a mentor to your college student, Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Just Send Money shows parents how to influence their college student while still supporting their independence. The authors offer valuable insight into the minds of college students and provide parents with simple suggestions for improving communication with their children. Filled with humorous anecdotes and realistic dialogs between parents and students, this comprehensive guide covers a wide range of issues including financial matters, academic concerns, social adjustment, and postgraduate choices.

Empty Nest … Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College
by Andrea Van Steenhouse

The author chronicles the tumultuous journey from the senior year of high school, through the challenging summer, to the first year of college for students. Featuring an emphasis on the freshman experience, Empty Nest…Full Heart offers a lighthearted yet savvy look at this turbulent time. The book’s generous and compassionate scope makes it lively, humorous, an emotionally resonant.

The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting from Senior to College Life
by Laura Kastner and Jennifer Fugett Wyatt

Launching a child from home is second only to childbirth in its impact on a family. Parents can end up reeling with the empty-nest blues, while teens find their powers of self-reliance stretched to the breaking point. During the time of upheaval that begins senior year of high school with the nerve-wracking college application process and continues into the first year of life away from home, The Launching Years is a trusted resource for keeping every member of the family sane. From weathering the emotional onslaught of impending separation to effectively parenting from afar, from avoiding the slump of “senioritis” to handling the newfound independence and the experimentation with alcohol and sexuality that college often involves, The Launching Years provides both parents and teens with well-written, down-to-earth advice for staying on an even keel throughout this exciting, discomforting, and challenging time.

Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years, Third Edition
by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger

Letting Go leads parents through the period of transition that their student experiences between the junior year of high school and college graduation. The authors explain how to distinguish normal development stages from problems that may require parental or professional intervention. The new edition explains the differences between college life today and the college life parents experienced twenty or thirty years ago. It features a completely new resource guide that introduces parents to campus technology, useful web sites, and other organizations providing information on a wide range of topics.

When Kids Go to College: A Parent’s Guide to Changing Relationships
by Barbara M. Newman and Philip R. Newman

This practical guide will answer that important question and tell you how to make the most of these exciting years. Topics covered in this book are: identity formation, values development, career exploration, social relationships, sexuality, alcohol and drug abuse, romantic relationships, dorm life, personal freedom, depression, discrimination, and college bureaucracy.

When Your Kid Goes to College; A Parent’s Survival Guide
by Carol Barkin

When Your Kid Goes to College provides supportive, reassuring, and helpful tips for handling this inevitable but difficult separation. Comprehensive and accessible, this practical guide includes information on: Teaching your child how to live on her own, from balancing a checkbook to dealing with a roommate. The difference between financial and emotional dependence — and how to keep them separate. Helping your spouse, younger children, and even pets deal with the transition when your child leaves — and when she returns. How to fill — and even enjoy — the hole that your child’s absence leaves.

You’re On Your Own (But I’m Here if You Need Me) : Mentoring Your Child During the College Years
by Marjorie Savage

Savage addresses the sometimes tough issues facing parents and their college-age kids, as the latter seek independence (but still rely on counsel from Mom and Dad) and the former try to figure out just how involved they should be. In 12 chapters that span the summer before college, the culture shock of school (and the corresponding empty-nest shake-up for parents), the freshman 15, course loads, extracurricular activities, risky or defiant behaviors and life beyond the BA, Savage gives parents clear and seasoned advice-and offers tips for students as well. Illustrating her points through anecdotes, charts and bullet-pointed lists, she crafts a readable, if sometimes very commonsensical, guide to establishing the right level of parental involvement. For nervous parents, this should be a reassuring and helpful book.