Being a student at The Ohio State University is exciting. College years are generally met with great enthusiasm and looked back on with nostalgia. Yet, as with any stage in life, there are both opportunities and challenges. There is much to navigate as students balance academic priorities, internship and career options, finances, relationships, schedules, nutrition, sleep, stress management and more. While your student is capable of a great deal, this can all be overwhelming at times.

In recent years, multiple factors have contributed to increased mental health concerns for young adults. According to the Healthy Minds study, mental health diagnoses among college students increased from 22% to 36% between 2007 and 2017.

Over the last decade, mental health resources have diversified and expanded to meet the increased need. Parents and families should know that a wide array of support services, tailored to student concerns, are available at Ohio State and in the Columbus community to address their needs in a timely and effective manner. Included among these are workshops, wellness coaching, peer support, counseling, specialty mental health treatment, and emergency services. 

You know your student best. If they are struggling, you are likely to notice changes in them. Here are specific signs you should be aware of to prompt you to express concern to your student:

  • A significant change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Withdrawing socially (e.g., not leaving their room, not going to class, and not responding to you.)
  • Change in energy or motivation
  • Significant or unexpected emotional reactions
  • Using alcohol/marijuana/other drugs
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Is frequently or increasingly tearful, sad, or agitated
  • A sudden drop in academic performance, especially for students who generally perform well
  • Expressions of hopelessness, e.g., “What’s the point of trying?”
  • Direct or indirect statements about death or suicide, e.g., “What¹s the point of living?” or “I wish I were dead”
  • Avoidance of certain places or situations, or fear of being alone
  • Increased irritability or restlessness
  • Struggling to communicate clearly

For students with pre-existing mental health concerns, the following options would be helpful:

Students can schedule a phone consultation with Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service to help arrange for resources and receive a clinical recommendation tailored to their needs.

Consider obtaining Student Health Insurance through the Office of Student Life, as this would eliminate out-of-network costs and provide access to many treatment resources in our community.

Consult this community provider database for weekly therapy options. You can screen for a variety of criteria

Consider registering with Student Life Disability Services for accommodations, if appropriate.


Student Life’s Counseling and Consultation Service is available to parents and families and can listen to your concerns, but may not be able to disclose information about the student without written authorization as per State laws governing mental health.  For additional questions or concerns, parents and families can call us at 614-292-5766.

The following can help parents learn more about supporting students’ mental health concerns:

-The JED foundation has a variety of useful resources for parents to assist their student transition to college including: when parents should intervenepossible warning signs of mental health concernsestablishing a communication contract;  first few weeks of collegetalking to your child about mental health.

Other books and resources:

  • The Stressed Years of Their Lives by B Janet Hibbs Phd MFT and Anthony Rostain MD, MA
  • When Your Kid Goes to College: a Parent’s Survival Guide by Carol Barkin
  • You’re on your own (But I’m here if you Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years by Helen E. Johnson
  • Been There, Should Have Done That II: More Tips for Making the Most of College by Suzette Tyler
  • She’s Leaving Home – Letting Go as a Daughter Goes to College by Connie Jones
  • Give Them Wings by Carol Kuykendall
  • Empty Nest, Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College by Andrea Van Steerhouse
  • How to Survive and Thrive in an Empty Nest: Reclaiming Your Life When Your Children Have Grown by Jeanette C. Lauer
  • Almost Grown: Launching Your Child From High School to College by Patricia Pasick
  • Becoming a Wise Parent for Your Grown Child: How to Give Love and Support without Meddling by Betty Frain, Ph.D & Eileen M. Clegg
  • I’ll Miss You Too: An Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students by Margo E. Woodacre Bane & Stephanie Bane

Helpful websites for parents:


By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

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Posted by R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU CCS Psychiatrist at 1:23pmPosted in Parents Tagged parents guide to college student mental health

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