Information for Parents
The Wellness Center
501 Westminster Ave.
Fulton, MO 65251
(Located in the basement of Westminster Hall)
Ph: (573) 592-5361
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
College is often an extremely exciting time in a student’s life as it offers opportunities for personal, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical growth. Within this context, a student begins to assume new responsibilities, life roles, and ways in which to navigate their new, more independent environment. During this process, challenges may arise. Challenges are opportunities to expand one’s skill base, but may also cause distress, anxiety, and feelings of depression depending on how such events are interpreted and addressed.
The Wellness Center (The Well) offers a variety of services and resources to support students in their academic pursuits, and continued growth in healthy and proactive ways. The Wellness Center operates from a holistic perspective, meaning that we feel as though individuals can only reach their fullest potential when all areas (including physical, nutritional, and mental health) are cared for/addressed. Please note that a list of specific services offered is provided on the drop down menu on the left of this page.
A Note about Confidentiality:
Since your student(s) is/are over the age of 18, by law (through the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act), The Wellness Center is unable to release or disclose your student’s health information unless they complete an Authorization for Release of Information document which specifies what information is to be released and to whom. Without the appropriate documentation and release, the Wellness Center staff are unable to either confirm or deny that your student receives Wellness Center services. With this being stated, Wellness Center staff are available to receive information from others including parents and can provide consultation services as questions and concerns present.
What To Expect: Common Themes Of The College Experience
Academics: Education is an active process and it is up to your son or daughter to determine how they are going to learn. Students often find that study habits, daily schedules, and patterns of organization will often necessitate changes in order to accommodate an increase in learning opportunities, coursework, and campus/social activities. It is important to remember that not all learning experiences take place in the classroom.
Identity Formation:Your son or daughter will discover, clarify, accept, and possibly reject new roles in their lives as they develop their sense of self and progress within adulthood. You want to support this process of CHANGE (i.e. responsible, respectful, caring, considerate, and mature adult).
Exploration…of self, school, and other. Your son or daughter will sharpen and develop a unique set of values and opinions which may differ from values or opinions they previous held. Again you want to encourage their exploration and assure them that you believe and trust in them. Students who are so afraid of failure may not explore new relationships, classes, and positive experiences that enhance their lives.
Relationships: Throughout the next few years, your relationship with your child may change as they assume a more independent, assertive role in their lives while testing their environment, beliefs, and relationships during the process of identity formation. This time is often marked by students (and sometimes parents) feeling as though there is one foot at home with the other out in the world. Feelings of both independence and at the same time dependence can cause anxiety, feelings of guilt, and sadness for both students and parents. Understanding and being aware that this is a normal experience can lessen the intensity of such feelings as well as assist in the further development and nurturance of your relationship with your child. One thing that will NOT change is that they will always need your love, support, and guidance.
Additional relationships to take into consideration include the formation of life-long friendships, often with peers who have diverse and unique backgrounds, as well as the development of a relationship with a significant other (as it is likely that your child will have at least one serious relationship while they are in college).
Tips For Parents
The following tips and information are based upon Alan Farber, Ph.D.’s book, College: What Parents Need to Know.
Communicating With Your Student
- Although it may be difficult, it may be best to let your child call you when they have time to talk
- When it comes to home visits, it is important to encourage your child to stay on campus as much as possible, especially during the first couple of months of school. The more your child stays on campus, the more connected they feel to the College, the college experience, and their peers.
- For most students, there is nothing better than receiving a letter, postcard, “survival kit”, or other mode of communication via the mail. Each student has their own campus mailbox through which they can receive mail.
- Before your child comes home for a visit, it may be beneficial for you to discuss house rules, responsibilities, and expectations regarding curfews, chores, and borrowing vehicles so as both you and your student can know what to expect.
Money & Finances
- Tell your student to never fill out credit card applications to get free shirts, mugs, or other cheap gifts as this is one of the main ways in which credit card companies take advantage of college students.
- Discuss with your student different ways of being fiscally responsible including the following:
- The importance of establishing a weekly budget and sticking to it
- Saving money by attending free or cheap on-campus activities and events
- Applying for local, state, and national scholarships on a regular basis. For more information, please contact the Financial Aid Office at (573) 592-5364
- Buy used textbooks online, from other students, or at the college bookstore.
How To Support Your Student
Stay in touch. Discuss potential modes (phone, visits, email, etc.) and frequency of communication with your child, while keeping in mind such contact may increase and decrease at times due to several factors including your student’s schedule, level of adaptation to college, and emotional considerations such as homesickness and stress.
Be realistic about academic performance. Living up to its designation of higher education, college provides challenging learning opportunities which may mean that although your student excelled in high school, they may face academic challenges while at Westminster. During these times, it is helpful to keep in mind that the development of problem-solving, time management and organization skills are often as important as earning high grades. Such skill development can prove to be an asset in future employment and in how the student conceptualizes and addresses future challenges.
Take the stance of a coach as opposed to problem-solver.College is a learning experience, both inside and outside of the classroom. It serves as a means of preparation for both future employment and successful progression within adulthood. By promoting the use of problem-solving skills while providing support, you are assisting them in building several important skill sets and traits including self-efficacy, organization, advocacy, and service/resource utilization.
Encourage your student to utilize both on campus and community-based resources as needed. The Wellness Center is located in the basement of Westminster Hall and can be accessed by phone (573) 592-5361 or in person (M-F 8:30am-4:30pm). In the case of an after hours emergency, Campus Security can be reached at (573) 592-5555. Campus Security will then contact appropriate staff in order to address the concern which may include an on-call counselor from the Wellness Center. In addition to the Wellness Center, Westminster offers a wealth of resources and services to students to assist in a variety of areas from social involvement to academic achievement. Such services include the Learning and Opportunities Center, Career Development, and the Leadership & Service Center. In the case that community-based services are assessed as appropriate (which may include but are not limited to long-term counseling and substance abuse treatment), the Wellness Center will assist in the referral process (as appropriate).
Encourage your student to be active on campus through participation in clubs, organizations, and/or activities and events.Involvement in campus programming promotes feelings of connectedness to the college and peers, creates opportunities to explore new interactions and challenges not offered in the classroom, and encourages the development of healthy team-building and social skills.
What To Do If You Feel Your Student May Be In Need of Help
College, among other things, is a time for learning, challenging opportunities, and the development of self-identity. Such development and opportunities however may lend itself to the experience of stress, anxiety, and depression as students are attempting to negotiate their new environment and/or circumstances. The following list includes some factors to consider/look for when interacting with your student which may be signs they are in need of help:
- Significant weight, personality, sleep, and/or hygiene changes
- Tearfulness when they call home
- Talk of hopelessness, a lack of purpose
- Frequent visits home
- Substance use
- Physical health concerns
- Declining academic performance, poor class attendance
Talking about thoughts to harm themselves and/or others
If you find that your student is experiencing one or more of the above changes/concerns, please encourage them to contact the Wellness Center as soon as possible for assistance. If your child ever mentions thoughts about harming themselves and/or others, whether such thoughts are vague or descript, please contact the Wellness Center or after hours crisis line AS SOON AS POSSIBLE at (573) 592-5361 or (573) 592-5555, respectively.
In these instances, time is a vital factor in the prevention of harm and safety concerns. Try to obtain as much information as possible, especially if such thoughts are mentioned in passing or present as vague. Even if your student does not discuss thoughts of harm to self or others, if you feel concerned that this may be a possibility, QUESTION/ASK them directly if they have currently or recently experienced such thoughts. If the answer is “yes” or “I don’t know”, PERSUADE them to seek help. Tell them how important they are to you and how you will support them in getting the assistance they need. Lastly, REFER them to a mental health provider, such as Westminster’s Wellness Center.
As stated above, if suicidal or homicidal thoughts are reported by your student, please contact the Wellness Center at (573) 592-5361 or, after hours, Campus Security at (573) 592-5555 as soon as possible.