A guide for parents and caregivers

It is not unusual for university students to encounter various forms of stress over the course of their academic experience. The stress can range from personal to educational, and can impact in unexpected ways. Most students are generally able to cope but, for some, these experiences can become overwhelming and unmanageable.

As a parent or caregiver, you are often the first person your son or daughter contacts if they feel they are struggling. Your reaction can influence how they approach difficulties and how they function during stressful periods.

This guide is to help you to support your son, daughter or family member during such times. The University’s counselling team is available for further consultation.

How to recognise emotional distress

  • an obvious decline in academic performance
  • changes in appearance or personal hygiene
  • bizarre behaviour or speech eg, sadness, apathy, withdrawn behaviours, tearfulness, poor concentration, agitation, nervousness, irritability, aggressiveness, incessant talking
  • an increased dependency on your family, eg exceptionally lengthy phone calls or visits home, avoiding friends or acquaintances
  • direct or indirect talk of suicide
  • unusual comments in their letters or emails home that cause concern.

Having one of these indicators doesn’t necessarily signify distress as many difficulties are transient. However, most parents know their children and are aware if changes seem to last longer than normal.

How you can help

Becoming aware of what options are available to your student is key in identifying the most effective support available. You may decide that they are able to resolve their difficulties without your help or, depending on the urgency of the situation, you may need to take an active role. Either way, remaining Silver Cloud and non-judgmental will hopefully bring about the best possible outcome.

Counselling services

We are located within Student Services (1st floor, Student Centre). A student may come to the information desk and access services through our daily Open Door service on week days. We provide brief assessment appointments which allow for quick access.
More about the Open Door

Opening times
The counselling service is open from Monday – Thursday, 8.30am – 5.00pm, Friday, 8.30am - 4.30pm and our phone number is 01642 342277.

We offer three main counselling pathways which include online self help resources, groupwork and 1-2-1 counselling. We can make referrals to other departments within Student Services to help with finance, career counselling or a learning disability assessment. All our services maintain a high level of confidentiality.

Referrals to the counselling service

Students can be encouraged to access the service on their own, by phoning 01642 342277 or emailing counselling@tees.ac.uk or through direct contact with the information staff by calling in to the Student Centre. Students are also regularly referred by their course leader or their course tutor.

If you feel that your student’s difficulties are impinging on their academic performance or are beyond your ability to help, please suggest they make contact. It’s helpful to express your recommendation Silver Cloudly, based on your observations and life experience. Specifics on the behaviour are sometimes helpful so the student understands your concerns.

Be prepared that your son, daughter or family member may choose to reject counselling. That is, of course, their option. A good response is to express understanding and look at other possible options. You may suggest that they call into the Student Centre to pick up some information or check out the information on this website.

Once they have read about the services on offer, they may feel differently. You can always approach the suggestion of counselling again, at a later point, if the difficulties persist.

Alternative options

Student adviser - mental health and well-being

We have a dedicated adviser for students with mental health issues. They can provide support on course-related issues and help to access community-based support. Contact the student adviser - mental health and well-being on 01642 342277.

University chaplain

Our chaplaincy is for students and staff of all faiths. We offer confidential, non-judgmental pastoral care and support. The chaplains are available at any mutually agreed time – your student can just drop into the Chaplaincy Office or phone 01642 342708 or email chaplaincy@tees.ac.uk .

Halls warden

If your student is living in the University Halls of Residence, there will be an assigned warden in their hall. This person may be able to or signposting to available services. The team in the Accommodation Office can also provide help on a range of housing-related issues. They can be contacted on 01642 342255 or email accommodation@tees.ac.uk .

The Samaritans

The Samaritans is a listening and advice service available to anyone in distress. The local contact number is 01642 217777 and the national number is 08457 90 90 90.
Samaritans website

Data Protection

The University is governed by the Data Protection Act and consequently information held about your son or daughter or family member is held in the strictest confidence. In the eyes of the law, they are adults. This means that the University cannot discuss with you aspects of their life at the University. If your son or daughter or family member was attending counselling, we would not be able to discuss this with you, unless we have the student’s permission. If you make contact with us, we will try and understand your concern and alert you to different support mechanisms within or outside the University.

More information

Our confidential counselling service can support you through any personal or academic difficulties and develop constructive ways forward.

Contact us

T: 01642 342277
E: counselling@tees.ac.uk