Parent Information

Things to consider as you prepare to send your child to college

Resilience and self-reliance are two of the most important skills in a college student’s repertoire. Your son/daughter’s ability to care for him/herself in a healthy manner and to be able to bounce back from frustration, disappointment, and stress are essential skills in a college environment. College is an important time developmentally for young adults to learn how to be lifelong learners, how to live well within a community, and how to thrive in the midst of tremendous challenges, both exciting and difficult. A positive college experience can launch a student into a healthy, happy adulthood. If you have concerns about your child’s ability to cope with feelings and to take care of him/herself, he or she may need time to consolidate those skills before entering this demanding environment. 

What can I do to help my child transition to college?

Your son/daughter will benefit from having had an experience of being away from home before going off to college. Students can benefit from their parents’ ongoing emotional support, but they need to be able to rely on themselves to negotiate their daily routines. Students can often feel homesick anytime in the first six weeks of school. It is important to reassure them that this is normal and that their peers are likely feeling the same way. Encourage them to talk to staff members in their residence halls as well as to other students. Try to limit phone contact and visits, as constant contact with home can interfere with your child’s ability to acclimate to his/her environment. If you are worried that they are not transitioning as easily as they might, encourage them to seek out staff in the Dean of Students Office or the Brandeis Counseling Center. The Counseling Center may recommend they join a group with other students who are also transitioning to school for the first time.

How do I help my homesick son/daughter?

It is important for students and families to be prepared for homesickness when it settles in. Most studies suggest that its onset can be immediate, after a few months, or anywhere in between. Homesickness is normal and should subside as your child adjusts. It can be felt as anxiety, sadness and nervousness, as well as preoccupation with thoughts of home, family and friends; they’re really missing their routines and sense of security.

Homesickness can be helped by establishing a routine, staying engaged with the new college program, doing something to feel closer to home, talking to someone who understands, and remembering it will pass.

I know my son/daughter will need counseling at college. How do I facilitate that?

Students sometimes come to college having been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition and being under the care of treaters at home. It is essential for your child’s success that the Brandeis Counseling Center know of the clinical needs of your son/daughter as close as possible to the beginning of the first semester at Brandeis. Your child can call the Brandeis Counseling Center before arriving to determine if care at the Counseling Center is appropriate, to arrange a tour, a meeting with the Clinical Director for you and your child, and to sign appropriate forms so that your current treatment team can speak to the staff at the Center. Once your child is on campus, he or she can schedule an initial evaluation.

My son/daughter is on psychiatric medications. How does he/she get these psychiatric needs met?

Our team of psychiatrists provides medications to students who are in therapy at the Brandeis Counseling Center. While students can be seen by a therapist for urgent care, our psychiatrists have limited availability and are not able to provide emergency care. It is important to come to campus with a 4-6 week supply of medicine and with the understanding of your home psychiatrist that the student continues in his or her care until a thorough evaluation by the Center is complete and your child’s treatment has been deemed appropriate for a college counseling center. If your home psychiatrist knows your child’s psychiatric needs well, the student might consider continuing in that doctor’s care while at school, since he or she will need to return to home-based care during winter and summer breaks.

My son/daughter is on medications for ADHD and wants to get medications at school. Is that possible?

We encourage students who are being prescribed medications for ADHD by their home psychiatrists to continue to receive their medications from home. The Brandeis Counseling Center requires recent neuropsychological testing to support a diagnosis of ADHD in order to prescribe medications for ADHD. The Center does not prescribe medications to students who are only interested in receiving medications and not engaging in therapy.

My son/daughter is sounding very distressed and I am worried. What can I do?

Try to determine whether the student is having a normative amount of distress or whether the distress is beginning to interfere with daily functioning. Ask about classes, attendance and coursework. Ask about seeing friends, getting to meals, substance use, and about sleep habits. If it seems that functioning in one or more areas is interrupted, encourage the student to check in with the residence hall staff and the Brandeis Counseling Center. If your child is having trouble with classes, suggest a meeting with an academic advisor. The student can find his or her advisor by going to the website for Academic Services and looking to see which advisor is responsible for students whose name falls within a certain part of the alphabet. If you are concerned about your child’s safety, call Public Safety at 781-736-3333 immediately.

My son/daughter is being seen at the Counseling Center. Can I talk to the assigned therapist?

We are always happy to hear from families of students at Brandeis. However, due to issues of confidentiality, we are unable to share any information about a student’s being seen unless the student has signed a release of information for us to speak to particular designated people. When families reach out to us with concerns, we can pass that information on to therapists, and/or to other offices around campus that ensure the safety and well-being of our students. If a student has signed a release for us to talk to family members, we welcome the opportunity to collaborate around issues of concern. We especially welcome contact from parents who are worried about their children and want to consult about what to do to help them.

How does the Brandeis Counseling Center bill for therapy?

We encourage each family to speak with their insurance provider about mental health coverage at Brandeis before students arrive on campus.

The University provides a limited number of free sessions each year to undergraduate and graduate students. During the initial evaluation, we determine clinical need and whether a student will be able to be seen for care at the Center or will need to be referred to an outside provider. After the initial free sessions, insurance is billed for services. When insurance declines coverage, the student/family is responsible for the bill.

Students who exceed the free sessions, or are being seen by a psychiatrist for medications, will need to sign an agreement of financial responsibility in order to continue in treatment. All psychiatry visits are billed. Group therapy is offered free of charge.

My son/daughter is in need of a psychiatric hospitalization. How does that happen at Brandeis?

If you feel your son/daughter is in crisis and may need psychiatric hospitalization, call Public Safety, 781-736-3333. You will be connected to an emergency clinician in the Counseling Center. The Counseling Center will consult with you and help to arrange an evaluation if appropriate.

My son/daughter has been psychiatrically hospitalized while at Brandeis. What next?

Once a student at Brandeis has been transported to an emergency room for psychiatric evaluation, both the Clinical Director of the Counseling Center and the Dean of Students Office become involved with the emergency room in conversations about the disposition of care and next steps. If the student is recommended to an inpatient level of care, the emergency room will arrange for that inpatient stay at a local inpatient psychiatric unit for a length of time to be determined by the psychiatrist on that unit. The Clinical Director, the Dean of Students Office, and Academic Services work together during the student’s stay to support the student and communicate to the faculty that the student is receiving medical care. Every effort is made to encourage the student to sign releases at the hospital so that families can be enlisted in important conversations about what the student will need after discharge both in terms of care and with regard to their studies. Sometimes this becomes an opportunity for students and their families to confer with Academic Services and to decide whether a medical leave might be appropriate, to allow the student to focus on psychiatric care and well-being.

I think my son/daughter could benefit from a medical leave. How can we go about arranging that?

If you are concerned that your son/daughter is not thriving at Brandeis and is in need of intensive psychiatric treatment in order to be able to flourish here, the first step would be to discuss this with your son/daughter. Your student will need to request a medical leave through the Office of Academic Services and will need documentation of a medical condition that necessitates the leave. If the student is already in treatment, his or her psychiatric team can collaborate to request a leave. If the student is not in treatment, the Office of Academic Services can recommend next steps.

My son/daughter is on a medical leave due to a psychiatric condition. What should he/she do to prepare to go back to school?

It is important when your son/daughter is requesting leave that you also ask for the requirements for return to Brandeis after a medical leave. Your son/daughter will need to seek psychiatric care that will allow him/her to return to Brandeis and be a successful student. Therefore, the University requires documentation of care received to address the condition that necessitated the leave. Students will need to demonstrate that they have developed the coping skills to withstand the stress of a competitive academic and social environment. Academic Services can help your child through this process.

For additional resources, please also see:

www.jedfoundation.org/parents/programs/parent-resource-center