Parent and Family Resources
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at UNO seeks to assist students in increasing their emotional wellness skills through the counseling process. We are a free service available to all currently enrolled students.
We invite you to look around our website to gain a better understanding of the common concerns students may face in addition to how you can support your student. If you have additional questions, or feel as though you would like to consult with a counselor, please call us at 402.554.2409.
The transition to college is one that both students and parents will experience. It is important to establish open communication with your student prior to their arrival on campus. Below are some tips and common topics that are important for you to discuss with your student.
Assist your student in becoming more independent. Help them learn to manage their own finances, schedule, appointments, medications, etc. These are all things they will need to do on their own once they arrive at UNO.
Discuss when you will see and talk to your student. Parents may be accustomed to seeing their students on a daily basis. This may change when a student begins attending UNO. It is important to establish how and when you might see your student or talk to them over the phone/text. It is important to understand that as your student becomes more independent, communication may not be as frequent. This is not a sign that your relationship is weakening, rather that you have assisted your student in becoming an independent adult.
Ask open ended questions. When talking to your student you will want more than a yes or no answer. Start off your questions with things like “tell me how______ is going” or “what is ______ like”. Things to talk to your student about might include classes, homework, roommates, campus involvement, relationships, alcohol and drug use. Remember, don't overwhelm your student with a lot of these topics at once. If they feel like they are being questioned or monitored, they may not be willing to talk. Convey that you are wanting to be supportive and understanding of their experiences.
Be a coach! It is important to assist your student in making their own decisions. Parents are often used to instructing their students or telling them what they need to do. As a student becomes more independent they will want to make decisions for themselves. As a parent, you can help them think through hard decisions and ultimately come up with their own conclusion.
Everyone makes mistakes. Your student is bound to make a mistake or two while in college. This is a part of the learning and growing process. Try not to shame your student over their mistakes; rather, help them learn from their mistakes in a positive manner. It is okay for students to make mistakes, but we want to intervene when the mistake may be life altering/threatening.
Take care of yourself. You may find yourself with more free time now that your student is more independent. It may be time to pursue new interests or revisit old interests that were put to the side. Find time to do things for yourself!
Connect with other parents. It can be helpful to connect with other parents who are going through this transition as well. You may find that the concerns you have are not uncommon. You may feel more confident and supported in how you are helping your student transition to college.
The following are different types of crises:
Emergency: An emergency is defined as a life-threatening situation for your student and requires your immediate intervention or response. Examples of an emergency include, but are not limited to: suicidal/homicidal thoughts, intent, or plans, or life threatening behaviors. In the event of an emergency please contact the Omaha Police Department by dialing 911, or contact UNO Public Safety by calling 402.554.2911. You may also take your student to the nearest emergency room.
Urgency: An urgent situation is a non-life threatening, immediate situation where a student may feel psychologically or emotionally overwhelmed. Examples of an urgency include, but are not limited to: Grief and loss of significant people or relationships, severe stress or anxiety over academic challenges, or intense feelings of sadness and lack of motivation without thoughts of suicide. If a student is in an urgent situation they should call or visit CAPS to schedule an appointment. Students will be seen as soon as possible based on staff availability.
Non-emergency: A non-emergency can be any issue or problem of concern that students may face. These issues or concerns may include feelings of sadness, anxiety, stress, adjustments, transitions, conflicts, etc. A student can call or visit CAPS to schedule an appointment.
Power of Parenting is a useful tool that is aimed at helping parents discuss alcohol and drug use with their students. Communication styles learned within this tool can also be used in conversations about things other than drugs and alcohol. Research shows that parents can strongly influence their students decisions. Feel free to browse this resource by clicking the link below. This link will send you to a website that is outside the UNO's website.
What services does CAPS offer?
CAPS provides short-term, mental health counseling to all currently enrolled students. The services provided by CAPS are free of charge. Some alcohol and drug services have charges associated. View more information on drug and alcohol services. Students can call 402.554.2409 or stop by 102 H&K to schedule an appointment Monday through Friday from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. Due to privacy and confidentiality, the student must schedule the appointment themselves. There are also support groups that students are welcome to attend. View more information about on campus support groups.
Can I have access to my students counseling records or speak to CAPS staff about their treatment?
It is important that your student feels comfortable in sharing information with us. Any information that a student shares with the staff is protected by professional ethics and state law. Therefore, information cannot be released in writing or over the phone without the written consent of the student. Information will be released in the following circumstances:
- Imminent threat to harm self or others
- Reported child or elder abuse
- Written release from the student
- Court ordered subpoena and certain legal circumstances
You can encourage your student to list you as their emergency contact with our office. In the event of an emergency, we may contact the person designated with our office.
The Age of Majority in Nebraska is 19 years old. However, Legislature of Nebraska (LB 982) provides for minors 18 years of age and older to consent to mental health services as prescribed. If your student is under the age of 18 we will need to get signed consent from a parent or guardian for counseling. The Consent to Treat a Minor form can be found here. In addition, we will need the signature of a parent or guardian to release information.
What if I am concerned about my student and don't know how to help?
Consultation with our staff is available to you as a parent during our regular business hours. While we cannot confirm or deny if your student is being seen by our staff, we can assist you in how best to support your student with the information you share. If you are concerned that your student is experiencing an emergency please see above.
How do I refer my student to your services?
If you are concerned about your student, and think that counseling may be helpful, have a conversation with your student. Encourage them to contact our office via phone or in person. Remind them that our services are free and confidential. When referring to our office it can be helpful to express your love and concern for your student. Let them know that you are always there to support them and counseling may be able to provide additional support.
What should I do if my son or daughter is reluctant to seek counseling?
Students may be anxious about attending counseling. It is important to let them know that these feelings are normal. Be patient with your student in making this decision. They may not want to make a decision immediately. Remind them that counseling is free and confidential. To ease their worries, you can direct them to our staff information page. They can read the profiles of our staff and gain more information about the people with whom they may work. Invite them to contact us so that we can answer any questions they may have before they commit to making an appointment. They are welcome to consult with us about their situation and gain more information about the counseling process.
Will counseling records become a part of my child’s academic record?
No. Counseling records are separate from a student’s academic records.
What are some common signs of distress I should look for?
The most common concerns we see are those of anxiety and depression. If you see any of the following symptoms it may warrant a referral to CAPS:
- Isolation and loneliness
- Skipping classes
- Lack of energy
- Uncharacteristic moodiness
- Trouble concentrating, remembering, or staying focused
- Excessive worrying
- Lower grades/academic problems
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or having excessive guilt
- Lack of motivation
- Changes in hygiene/self-care
- Drinking or drug use
- Sleeping too much or too little
- A change in appetite
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Having lost interest in things they once enjoyed
This list is not exhaustive. If you are seeing other signs or symptoms that are not on this list, a referral to CAPS may still be warranted. Feel free to call and consult with our staff if you are unsure.
How do I talk to my student about drugs and alcohol?
We understand that this may be a difficult topic to discuss with your student. Despite this difficulty, know that you can influence your student to make positive decisions. To assist you in this process please look at the resource provided on our Power of Parenting webpage.
- Barkin, C. (2007). When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parents’ Survival Guide. New York: Harper.
- Carr, M., Carr, K., and Carr, A. (2009). Sending Your Child to College: The Prepared Parent’s Operational Manual. Dicmar Publishing
- Johnson, H. and Schelhas-Miller, C. (2011). Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money, 2nd Edition. New York: St. Martin’s.
- Levin, K.C. and Treeger, M.L. (2009). Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years, 5th Edition. New York: Harper.
- Savage, M. (2009). You’re On Your Own (But I’m Here if You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years. New York: Fireside.
- Spohn, M. (2008). What to Expect When Your Child Leaves for College: A Complete Guide for Parents Only. Atlantic Publishing Company
- Woodacre, M. and Carey, S., (2015) I’ll Miss You Too: The Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students. Sourcebooks, Inc.