It's that time of year when panic sets in.
Over at the CMU Counseling Center, Michelle Bigard sees plenty of students struggle during these last weeks of the school year.
"If students aren't doing well, they start to panic, feeling like they're running out of time," says Bigard, associate director of the CMU Counseling Center.
Students worry about finding jobs, applying for graduate school, writing application essays, subletting their apartments.
"Anxiety is higher this time of year," Bigard says.
It's not uncommon for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues to show up during the final few weeks of school.
The good news? CMU offers support for struggling students at every turn. And Bigard has some tips for parents who want to help.
"Parents can be supportive by helping their son or daughter turn to the resources we have here at CMU," Bigard says.
There are signs parents should listen for as they talk to or text with their sons and daughters, Bigard says:
- Complaining. Do they complain that everything seems hard? Are they struggling academically?
- Changes in moods. "Maybe you have a pretty even-tempered student, but he's suddenly irritable," Bigard says. "Or you have a very talkative student who's being silent. Look for changes."
- Illness. "If they're getting sick a lot, that can mean they're run down and may not be attending to daily needs like sleep, diet, exercise and managing their time wisely," she says.
On-campus resources to help students
If your child is having a problem with academics or residence life, help them problem solve and access CMU resources for help. Parents should know there are a lot of safety nets at CMU, Bigard says.
"Residence Life provides a huge safety net," Bigard says. "The RAs are like older brothers and sisters on the floor. Students can turn to them if they're struggling.
"The residence hall directors get to know all the students in their hall," Bigard says. "Each residence hall has a Student Success Center staffed with academic success coaches as well as counselors in residence."
- If they're stressed about career issues, suggest a visit to CMU's Career Services. "They can help students think outside the box," Bigard says. "When you're stressed, your perspective is narrower. Maybe you're not doing well in chemistry, but that doesn't mean you can't have a job in the medical field. It just might be a different job than you imagined."
- If your student is struggling with emotional or mental health issues like depression or anxiety, suggest he or she talk to a counselor. "Many students have seen counselors over the years, so for many, talking to someone isn't new," Bigard says.
- Contact your student's residence hall director. "If a parent is concerned about their child's emotional or physical safety and well-being, the hall director can check things out," Bigard says. They can refer a student to a counselor in residence or the counseling center.
- See for yourself. "If you think your student is in distress, go visit," Bigard says. "Check it out."
CMU Counseling Center
For many students, medication is a helpful addition to therapy. If a student and his or her counselor determine that could be helpful, the student may be referred to Student Health Services, a psychiatrist or another medical provider for a medication consultation.
CMU's Counseling Center, located at Foust Hall 102, is staffed by mental health professionals and some graduate student interns.
The center provides free and confidential counseling services for currently enrolled CMU students for a variety of concerns that may stand in the way of their academic success, personal relationships, health or safety, including:
- Sadness and depression
- Roommate problems
- Academic problems
- Relationship problems/breakups
- Adjustment to university life
- Missing friends and family
- Family problems
- Death of a family member or friend
- Disrupted sleep (too much or too little)
- Eating concerns
- Feeling isolated or out of step with others
- Feeling anxious or out of control
- Alcohol and drug concerns
- Sexuality issues
- Sexual assault, date rape, sexual abuse issues
- Domestic violence, harassment, stalking and assault
- Meeting the expectations of self and others
The Counseling Center is open 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday when the university is open. Call 989-774-3381 to make an appointment.
Emergency appointments are available daily. Students who need to be seen the same day should tell the receptionist. Appointments are usually 45 to 50 minutes long.
Counselors in residence also are located in each of the four Student Success Centers located in residence halls.
CMU CARE Team
In addition to counseling services, CMU provides CMU Cares and the CARE Team, a small group of CMU staff and faculty who meet weekly during the academic year to develop individualized plans to support students who are struggling or in distress.
Anyone can alert the CARE Team to a student problem by calling 989-774-2273. When a student CARE Report is submitted to the CARE Team coordinator, plans are developed to help the student.
Other non-CMU resources to check out:
- The JED Foundation promotes emotional health and prevention of suicide with a focus on college students.
- Listening Ear provides a 24-hour crisis line at 989-772-2918.