Counseling Center: Information for Parents

The transition to college life can be an exciting and challenging time for parents and students. The Counseling Center staff is available to talk with parents about how we may be helpful to your student. We are available to discuss our services with you and provide some tips on how to encourage your student to make an appointment.

We understand that parents are concerned about their student's well-being and would like to help in the treatment process. Our staff will do their best to protect your student's legal right to confidentiality while facilitating communication with you.


Please understand that, according to federal and state law, once a student has made an appointment, we cannot reveal information about the individual unless they provide written permission.

In certain circumstances, we will contact a parent directly:

  • If a student has threatened or attempted suicide, a Robert Morris University administrator will notify the parents and discuss the incident. In some cases, the university may require that the student receive treatment at home.
  • If a student is admitted to the hospital for drug or alcohol problems, we may, at the discretion of the Administrator-on-Call and the Counselor-on-Call, request that the student receive treatment at home.
  • In the case of a student returning home for treatment, the university may require the student to provide a statement from the treating professional that returning to the university is safe and appropriate.

10 Tips for Parents to Support a Student in Need of Mental Health Care

  1. Let your student know that the transition to college life can be a difficult time for many students, and the role of the Counseling Center is to provide support for them during a tough period. Let them know that support during difficult times can be extremely helpful and they will not be labeled as ill or crazy.
  2. Give them your explicit permission and express support for them to seek counseling services. Many students worry what their parents might think of them if they receive help.
  3. Be honest about the mental health issues and history within the family. Your student might be more willing to talk about what they are feeling if they know that they “aren't the only one."
  4. Be proactive with your student's mental health treatment. If your son or daughter has been in treatment prior to coming to RMU, make a point to seek out and introduce them to the Counseling Center staff and arrange for records to be shared.
  5. If your student is on psychiatric medications, make sure to have a plan in place to ensure they will continue to have their medications. Know the numbers of the local pharmacies.
  6. Have an honest conversation about drug and alcohol use. Talk about your concerns and dangers they might face and encourage them to always be honest with you.
  7. Know the signs of depression and anxiety. The easiest way to spot a concern with your student is when you see a change from their normal personality/behavior. For example, a student that was formerly out-going and gregarious becomes quiet and withdrawn; a student that was positive and hopeful becomes negative and pessimistic; or a student that was previously very open with you becomes secretive and withdrawn.
  8. Help your student to problem solve. When a student is in distress, it is common for them to have difficulty making basic decisions or to think through options and resources. Help them to brainstorm support people (both academic and personal supports) and options.
  9. Know the campus and local emergency resources. This includes the Counseling Center (412-397-5900), University Police (412-397-2424) and Residence Life Emergency Number (412-397-5242) as well as ReSolve 1-888-796-8226.
  10. Encourage your student to get involved with clubs and organizations on campus. You can find a directory of organizations and clubs here.

Suicide Prevention

If you suspect that your child is in imminent danger, call the University Police immediately at (412) 397-2424 or call 911 if they are off-campus. If you are concerned but don't feel they are in imminent danger, please contact the Counseling Center. For additional information about suicide risk factors and how to help someone, please click on the link below:

Important Information About Suicide

Additional Reading for Parents

Going to College: 7 Big Talks to Have Before They Leave

Mental Health in College: What Parents Need to Know

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Therapy