Counseling Services: Tips for UNM Parents

Tips for Students / Parents

Welcome First-Year Students!

When you come to campus there are many adjustments to make. We are here to provide you with support at Counseling Services at UNM Student Health and Counseling (SHAC). Sometimes it helps just knowing there is a safe, confidential place and person available so you can ask questions and talk about how you are experiencing college. Of course, there may also be important issues you bring with you from other life experiences.

Our Counselors are here to help. We want to encourage you to come in and talk to us at the earliest sign of a problem. Catching emotional stresses and mood problems right away can make all the difference in the success of your first year. To see a counselor, stop in any weekday between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM for a brief Triage (screening) visit to be sure you get the services you need. We look forward to meeting you.

These pages are to help you decide if you should seek some help, and to give you some resources to help you navigate your way around campus. We hope you find them useful.

--Stephanie McIver, Ph.D., Director, Counseling Services

Tips for students with a history of mental health concerns (good ideas for those with no history, as well) *

These guidelines are can help students with past mental health concerns and anyone dealing with mental health challenges while adjusting to college life:

    • Start planning now for a healthy, successful first semester.
    • Meet with your medical doctor or psychiatrist to review any medications you are currently taking or that you may want to resume, to deal with the new stresses of college.
    • Meet with your current counselor to discuss foreseeable stress related to moving from home and transitioning to college life.
    • If you will be attending a campus near your hometown, consider continuing care with your current mental health providers during your first semester, rather than starting treatment with new providers, to avoid unnecessary change and stress.
    • Take all medication as prescribed. Be careful not to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, medications not prescribed for you, or food. You can arrange for medication monitoring and refills through SHAC. Please do not wait until you run out of medication to contact us. Make contact early to avoid inconvenience or disruption!
    • Develop a stress management plan, and get adequate sleep. Increased stress and diminished sleep can create new mental health concerns and make pre-existing ones worse.
    • Contact SHAC right away if you, or people close to you, notice new or recurring symptoms of mental distress (see sidebar). Get a good productive start on college. There is no need to let mental health symptoms go untreated!
    • Walk in screening for new counseling clients is from 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM Monday through Friday.

Some Important Signs that a Counseling Services Consultation might be a Good Idea:

    • Lingering sadness
    • Poor energy/motivation
    • Decreased functioning
    • Social withdrawal
    • Loss of interest in things
    • Significant weight gain or loss
    • Significant change in appetite
    • Poor sleep, or excessive sleep
    • A pattern of relationship problems
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Pessimism
    • Frequent anxiety/nervousness
    • Excessive worry/pessimism
    • Feeling overwhelmed
    • Poor attention/concentration
    • Slowed or racing thoughts
    • Irritability
    • Excessive homesickness
    • Very high and/or very low moods
    • Hallucinations of any kind
    • Confused thinking
    • Delusional thoughts
    • "Stuck" or obsessive thoughts
    • Alcohol or drug abuse
    • Excessive guilt/grief
    • Poor self esteem
    • Body image issues

* This information was adapted with permission from Susan Landis Beck, Counseling Center, Goshen College, and Mental Health Services of Central Michigan University. This information is also available as a pdf file.

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Tips for Parents

What can you do to help your college student from a distance? You are still a parent to your college student, and he or she still needs your support and guidance during these years. Here are some ways you can express your caring and help improve your child’s experience at UNM.

Stay in touch! Even though your college student is experimenting with independent choices, he/she needs to know you’re still there, to discuss both normal and difficult issues. But remember to respect their erratic schedules and increased demands and watch your expectations that they'll be available whenever you call. Negotiate some agreed-upon times to email, text, or call, and use the method you child is most likely to answer. Frankly, we've found voicemail to be obsolete.

Recognize some new boundaries and limits. This is your child's transition to full autonomy and adulthood. It can be normal and developmentally appropriate for some college students to want less contact with their parents for a time, preferring relationships with peers and important faculty. This is an important step towards personal identity and autonomy, and may help the student relate to you, ultimately, on an adult/adult level.

Be realistic with your college student about financial matters. It helps parents and the college student to create a detailed plan covering how tuition, fees, books, and room and board will be paid for, and the family’s expectations about other spending.

Be realistic with your college student regarding academic achievement and grades. UNM attracts bright students from all over the world. Given the competition, not every first-year student who excelled in high school will be a straight-A student in college. While meeting the basic academic requirements of the University is critical, it can be just as important for the student to develop and refine the capacity to work independently and consistently, experiencing growing mastery.

* This information was adapted with permission from Susan Landis Beck, Counseling Center, Goshen College, and Mental Health Services of Central Michigan University. This information is also available as a pdf file.

Resource Links:

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Counseling Services Phone: (505) 277-3136
Counseling Services Fax: (505) 277-2020
After-Hours Crisis Counselor for UNM Students: (505) 277-3136; select option 3