While we encourage parents to let students begin to take self-responsibility for their behavior, it can sometimes be challenging for students to seek help when they need it. As a parent or caregiver, you are in a unique position. You may be one of the first to recognize when your student is in distress or crisis. Expressing your interest or concern in your student’s well being can be critical towards helping them get the assistance that is needed. This could help save a student’s academic career and even in some situations, their life.
Signs of Possible Distress
At one time or another, we all experience some degree of distress. However, when some of the following are present, your student may be experiencing significant distress that could interfere with his or her personal and academic functioning:
- Uncharacteristic decline in academic performance
- Increased absences or tardiness from class
- Failure to complete assignments
- Persistent appearance of depression (e.g., sad mood, loss of interest, tearfulness, weight loss, withdrawal)
- Anxiety, nervousness, panic attacks, agitation, irritability, non-stop talking
- Aggressiveness, acting out, emotional outbursts
- Significant change in personal hygiene, dress, appearance
- Bizarre behavior, speech, or mannerisms
- Talk of death or suicide, either directly or indirectly (e.g., “It doesn’t matter, I won’t be around for the final exam.” or “I’m not worried about finding a job, I won’t need one.”)
- Homicidal threats, either verbal or in written statements
It is important to remember that just because a student appears to be experiencing one of these signs it does not necessarily mean that they are in significant distress. Many of the above situations are short lasting. However, if a student’s distress appears to be severe, or you notice one or more of these signs over a prolonged period of time, then it may be necessary to intervene. If you have doubts or concerns about the seriousness of your student’s problems, please consult with one of the staff members at the GSU Counseling Center.
Eligibility and Services
All currently enrolled, full-time students at Georgia Southern University are eligible for free psychological services at the Counseling Center. Our psychologists work with students on a short-term basis towards managing personal, career and educational concerns which may interfere with their academic progress. We are staffed by full-time doctoral level psychologists and master’s level counselors, as well as support personnel who are all committed to providing effective services and promoting the personal growth of Georgia Southern students.
Appointments need to be scheduled by the actual student; appointments cannot be made on behalf of someone else. We are unable to call students and encourage them to schedule appointments. They may call our office, or come by the Counseling Center and schedule an appointment with the next available counselor. Students are asked to spend approximately 15 to 20 minutes prior to their initial appointment filling out necessary intake information.
About Counseling Sessions
The Counseling Center operates on a time-limited model, which means that students are eligible for up to 16 individual sessions per year if appropriate for our services. Individual counseling sessions are typically scheduled on the hour and last up to 50 minutes. Counseling can be an opportunity to talk about issues that are of concern to students with an objective person who can help them develop skills and view situations in ways that may enable them to be more effective in managing life’s challenges down the road.
If Your Student is in Crisis
Occasionally a student may wish to be seen by a counselor immediately due to a personal or situational crisis. We have crisis intervention services available 24 hours a day. If a crisis occurs during business hours, a student may come to the Counseling Center and request to be seen by the on-call counselor as soon as possible. If a crisis occurs after business hours or on a weekend, the student may call the Counseling Center number and follow the prompts, or contact GSU Public Safety and request to speak with the on-call counselor. See also our crisis information page.
Consultation is Available
While this web page is designed to help you with assisting a distressed student, please remember that the staff at the Counseling Center is available to consult with you about whether and how to intervene with your student. We can help you assess the seriousness of the situation, discuss possible resources on and off campus, learn how to make a referral, and plan for follow-up. Please feel free to call us to consult with one of our psychologists or counselors.
Limitations of Our Services
If a student has been seen for their allotted 16 sessions and is in need of additional counseling, we will work with the student to facilitate a referral to an outside agency. Additionally, on occasion a student may have needs that are beyond what our agency is designed to offer. These may include chronic or severe mental health problems, or other conditions that may require close monitoring. In such instances, our staff will facilitate obtaining appropriate treatment for the student.
We Are Here To Help
Parents and caregivers of Georgia Southern students are sometimes interested in the services we offer at the Counseling Center. We hope we have provided information on this web site that will answer your questions. If you have questions that are not addressed here, or you would like to consult with one of our psychologists, please give us a call.
Also check out our resource library for a wealth of information or if there is a specific area of concern.
Last updated: 1/5/2021