Information for Parents

Helping Your Adult Child

You may be one of the first individuals to notice that something is wrong or that a student is distressed.  Although emotional distress may be expected, especially during times of high stress, you may notice that your child is acting out of character or in ways that are inconsistent with their previous behavior.  

You may be a resource in times of trouble, and your expression of interest and concern may be critical in helping your child regain emotional stability. You may also be in a good position to assist the student in accessing campus and community resources so that appropriate interventions can occur. Parents should be aware that students who live on campus may seek support from Residence Services staff who are living in those residence halls.

Booking an Appointment

Students also can receive a free, confidential initial intake assessment and/or consultation with the Counseling Services Center in order to determine their need for mental health treatment and the type that would be most appropriate for them. Students can book this appointment online from our landing page. You can also find out more detailed information about the specific services we offer at the Counseling Services Center here.

If you have any questions or feel you would like to personally speak to one of our counselors, please reach out to us via email or by calling 267-341-3222. Do not leave detailed personal information via email or voicemail for confidentiality purposes. Leave your and the student’s name and contact information to call you back. 

What Happens Once a Student Books an Appointment

A student who comes to the Counseling Center will meet with one of the Counselors for an initial intake assessment session in which the Counselor and the student will begin to determine what help is needed and how best to assist the student. This may be simply one visit at the Counseling Center, counseling at the Counseling Center, referral to another campus office, or possibly an off campus referral for other types of intervention or more specialized longer-term treatment.


If you have referred a student or loved one for assistance, you are probably still concerned for that person and wondering how they are doing. Behavioral and mental health Counselors are held to higher standards than are other university employees who must abide by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Legal and ethical obligations prevent a Counselor from discussing a student's status with you.

Counselors cannot even confirm or deny that a student has sought services! You may follow-up with the student and to ask the student if s/he followed through with your referral and went to the Counseling Center.

FERPA regulations prohibit you from revealing information about the student to anyone outside of the university. This includes parents and other agencies. As tempting as it may be, you should not be discussing the student with individuals or agencies outside of the university unless you have written permission from the student to do so.

Communications within the university should also be extremely limited to a "need to know" basis. You should not be revealing information about a student to other faculty, staff, coaches, or administrators unless there is a compelling reason to do so, which is why so many faculty and staff seek consultation from the Counseling Center and/or Health Services. These two areas are completely confidential with which it is appropriate to discuss relevant concerns about a student. In any case, it is good practice to respect the student's privacy.

If the student appears hesitant to discuss the issue with you after you have made a referral, this is fine. You may just wish to state that you wanted the student to know that you are concerned for their well-being and hope they are doing better.


Counseling Center staff are available for consultation services for students and their support system. If you want to discuss our services further, please have your student book a consultation appointment.



Mental Health Crisis

In rare situations, if you feel that a friend or loved one is at risk to harm themselves or others or you are unsure about their safety and they are on campus, you can contact Public Safety at 267-341-3333. If the student of concern is off campus, please do one of the following:

  • Call 911
  • Go to your nearest emergency room
  • Call Mental Health Delegate/Mobile Crisis in your community and ask for a welfare check (Mental Health Delegate of Philadelphia at 215-685-6440)
  • Call or Text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)/ Text “Home” to 741-741. This service is available 24/7. 

Mental Health Distress Do’s 

  • Do call 911 or Public Safety if you have immediate concerns for student’s safety or the safety of others
  • Do speak to the individual privately in a non-judgmental fashion
  • Do let the student know you are concerned for their welfare
  • Do use active Listening Skills
  • Do Validate and Explore Options
  • Do remind help is available and a signal of strength
  • Do maintain clear and consistent boundaries
  • Do refer individual to appropriate campus or community resource
  • Do acknowledge and discuss the student's fears and concerns about seeking a consultation from a mental health professional
  • Do point out that a situation Does not have to reach crisis proportions for the student to benefit from professional help

Mental Health Distress Don'ts

  • Don't ignore unusual behavior or minimize their situation
  • Don't ignore warning signs about individual’s safety or the safety of others
  • Don't promise confidentiality
  • Don't judge or criticize
  • Don't make the problem your own
  • Don't involve yourself beyond the limits of your time, skill, or emotional well-being
  • Don't make promises regarding services
  • Don't forget to call Counseling Services to receive your own support and guidance in helping our students receive effective treatment
  • Don't pathologize a student's experience. All people experience negative emotions and experience trying periods in their life
  • Don't promise specific treatment to the student.

What if the student is feeling really upset, depressed, or anxious, but it is not an emergency?

There are several things individuals can do in times of great distress to relieve some of this distress such as:

  • Sign up for Tao Connect free Therapy Assistance Online
  • Journal or write down your thoughts in any creative way you can think of such as poetry, music lyrics, etc.
  • Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or adult role model
  • Practice relaxation techniques or meditate (check out our self-help link!)
  • Listen to soothing music or watch a comforting or funny movie
  • Exercise or do anything active such as take a walk or play a sport
  • Color, draw, craft, paint, etc.
  • Distract yourself with any healthy and soothing activity you can think of

What Happens once a student books an appointment with the Counseling Center?

A student who comes to the Counseling Center will meet with one of the Counselors for an initial intake assessment session in which the Counselor and the student will begin to determine what help is needed and how best to assist the student. This may be simply one visit at the Counseling Center, counseling at the Counseling Center, referral to another campus office, or possibly an off campus referral for other types of intervention or more specialized longer-term treatment.

Free Mental Health Trainings and Resources 

These online Mental Health Trainings and Referral Assistance to help you assist students in distress.

Ask, Listen, Refer

Ask Listen Refer is a statewide online suicide prevention training program

Take this Suicide Prevention Training to better equip yourself in responding to student mental health crisis. The Ask, Listen, Refer Suicide Prevention Training Program is designed to help you recognize the risk factors and warning signs of suicide and respond appropriately.

This 15-20 minute interactive training program can be found at Ask, Listen, Refer. The purpose of this program is to encourage concerned persons to Ask if someone is thinking about suicide, Listen to their response carefully, and Refer them to a professional.

Through this program, you will learn about the prevalence of suicide among the college population, suicide warning signs, and sample conversations to guide you through this difficult time.

Tao Therapy Assistance Online

Tao Therapy Assistance Online

We believe in giving our campus community the tools and resources to take control of your wellness and achieve your goals. With the recent addition of TAO Connect, the Holy Family University Counseling Services Center, and campus partners have made this even more accessible! TAO includes over 150 brief, effective, educational sessions covering over 50 common topics and skills related to mental health, wellness, and substance use issues. TAO Includes interactive sessions, mindfulness exercises and practice tools all aimed at helping students achieve their goals. 

Our TAO page will explain more about how students can create an account. Please feel free to reach out to us for a consultation about how you can utilize this tool to promote health and wellness in your course. 

ThrivingCampus: Find Community Providers


Holy Family University has partnered with ThrivingCampus, to make it easier for you to connect with off-campus mental health care and well-being services. This online directory contains licensed mental health clinicians, many of whom specialize in working with students. You can browse and filter providers based on your needs and preferences.

Other Resources

There are numerous resources that can provide assistance to students. In addition to the Counseling Center, these include a physician, Health Services, Center for Academic Enhancement, Academic Advising, Campus Ministry, Careers Center, Disability Services, Residence Life, and parents. When you refer to students or a loved one, it is important that you encourage them to contact these resources on their own. Although you may desire to call or arrange an appointment for the student, except in a serious emergency or life-threatening situation, it is important for the student to arrange these appointments for themselves.

Additional Parent Resources: